More than 60 million Americans have high blood pressure (hypertension), which requires regular monitoring, either by a medical personnel in the office, or at home by the patient or a family member.
Home blood pressure measurement offers several benefits. It allows patients to take an active role in their health care, and provides a "real world" blood pressure reading. (as opposed to the potential phenomenon of "white coat hypertension", where blood pressure measurements tend to be higher in doctors' offices than at home).
There are two general types of blood pressure monitoring devices sold for home use: mechanical (manual) and electronic. Each system has advantages and disadvantages. Mechanical models, when used properly, are more accurate and less expensive than electronic models. However, patients who have poor eyesight, poor hearing, or suboptimal hand-eye coordination may have difficulty using them. Electronic models offer the advantage of simplicity of operation, but they are more susceptible to error and more expensive.
To ensure the most accurate readings, follow these simple guidelines:
- Larger arms require larger cuffs, while smaller arms should have smaller ones. If the cuff is too small, the blood pressure reading may be falsely elevated.
If it's too large, the reading may be artificially low.
- Find a quiet place and relax before taking your blood pressure reading.
- Tensing muscles can elevate your blood pressure.
- Avoid cigarettes, caffeine or exercise for at least one hour prior to taking your blood pressure.
Be sure to log your results:
Keep a blood pressure log with each day's readings, along with the time of day each reading was taken.
Please ask us to help you check your blood pressure device to make sure the machine is working properly, and that you are comfortable with the process. We would be happy to provide you with blank log forms for your use in organizing your daily readings, and are always happy to evaluate your readings for you if you have questions.
Your Florida Heart Group physician will discuss the potential risks and benefits in detail so you can both decide which treatment is best for you.