A female Right at Home caregiver is monitoring a senior male client take a blood pressure measurement A female Right at Home caregiver is monitoring a senior male client take a blood pressure measurement

How to Monitor Blood Pressure at Home

High blood pressure is a very common health problem. And unfortunately, it can creep up on someone without many symptoms present. That’s older adults should regularly measure blood pressure at home to know if there’s a problem. It’s important to tackle high blood pressure as soon as you find out you have it, so you can manage the symptoms and risk of associated health problems.

Hypertension runs in families. If that is true for your family, you may find yourself with high blood pressure even if you work hard to prevent it.

If you’re concerned about your blood pressure, try not to fall victim to “white coat hypertension.” That’s when the sometimes anxiety-inducing nature of a visit to the doctor causes one’s blood pressure to be higher than usual.

To get a good understanding of your regular blood pressure, it’s a good idea to get a home blood pressure cuff and learn to take a reading accurately. Taking—and recording—accurate readings regularly can help you and your healthcare provider make informed decisions about any treatment you may need. Here are some tips for taking your blood pressure at home:

1. Choose the right equipment

Select an appropriate monitor: Use an automatic, cuff-style, bicep (upper-arm) monitor. These types are often recommended for home use because of their accuracy. Make sure it has been validated for accuracy and reliability. Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended due to their lower accuracy. Your health insurance may cover some of these expenses. Be sure to read the instructions carefully to ensure you’re taking accurate measurements.

Get the right cuff size: Ensure the cuff fits your arm properly. An ill-fitting cuff can give inaccurate readings. Most cuffs fit average-sized arms, but if your arm is particularly small or large, you may need a different size.

2. Prepare for the reading

Find a quiet space: Choose a quiet, comfortable place where you can sit and relax for a few minutes without distractions before you take the measurement.

Position yourself correctly: Sit in a chair with your back straight and supported. Keep your feet flat on the floor, uncrossed. Rest your arm on a flat surface, with your upper arm at heart level. The easiest way is to sit at a table. Roll up your sleeve so that the cuff can be placed on your bare arm.

Be consistent: Try to take your readings at the same time or times each day. Morning and evening are common choices.

3. Before you begin

Avoid certain substances: Don’t smoke, drink, or exercise 30 minutes before taking your blood pressure. These can affect the accuracy of your readings.

Empty your bladder: A full bladder can impact your blood pressure readings, so it’s a good idea to use the bathroom before you start.

4. Taking the reading

Apply the cuff correctly: Wrap the cuff around the upper part of your bare arm. Follow the instructions that came with your monitor to ensure it’s placed correctly.

Remain still and silent: While taking a measurement, sit still and silently. Talking or moving can affect your reading.

5. Record your results

Keep a log of your blood pressure readings, including the date, time, and any notes (such as feeling stressed or having recently finished exercising). This record can be invaluable for your healthcare provider.

6. Understand your readings

Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers, such as 120/80 mm Hg. The first number is the systolic blood pressure (the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats), and the second is the diastolic blood pressure (the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats). Know what range your healthcare provider recommends for you.

7. Share with your healthcare provider

Regularly share your blood pressure readings with your healthcare provider. This can help them determine if your treatment plan is working or needs adjustment. If your blood pressure monitor indicates that your reading is at a dangerous level, call your doctor right away.

Monitoring your blood pressure at home is a proactive step towards managing your health. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your readings are as accurate and useful as possible. Always consult with your healthcare provider to interpret your readings correctly and to make any necessary adjustments to your health plan.

Lou Giampa, Owner of Right at Home Westchester, has proudly offered in-home care to seniors and adults with disabilities in the community for several years. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for those we serve. To learn more about our services, please call 914-468-1944 today!

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