Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Learn to Buy and Use Home Blood Pressure Monitors

Checking blood pressure regularly with home blood pressure monitors is important for people who are on medication or alternative treatments who want to be proactive in helping to manage their health care. The American Heart Association recommends people with high blood pressure include using home blood pressure monitors in daily routines to be certain medications and other treatments are working, giving the patient the chance to alert health care practitioners to potential problems.

Using a home blood pressure monitor can help patients be aware of early diagnoses for other related diseases involving high blood pressure, motivates people to self-track their treatment and stay proactively involved in personal care, cuts health costs from frequent doctor visits, and gives a birds-eye-view if a person’s blood pressure differs in an environment other than a doctor’s office.

Speak with your health care practitioner or doctor to find out if using a home blood pressure monitor is the right choice for you. If so, here are some guidelines for purchasing and using one.
  • Investigate which kind of home blood pressure monitor is best for your situation. There are different types of home blood pressure monitors. The traditional cuff that wraps around the arm and blood pressure is measured by listening with a stethoscope is cumbersome and requires the participation of a second person for measuring. Wrist cuffs which are attached to a free standing meter are available and can be easily wrapped around the wrist by the individual. Buttons on the meter can be pushed to measure blood pressure. One hand operation is usually the norm. These are reasonably priced and convenient for people who can take their own blood pressure.
-Be sure wrist sizes are adequate. Check to see if the display is easily readable and a large enough for you to see.

-After buying a new home blood pressure monitor, take it to the doctor or practitioner’s office to compare the accuracy of its measurement to readings from his blood pressure cuff. Be sure the new machine is validated which means it can be relied on for accuracy and those results can be consistently repeated.

-Contact the Dabl Educational Trust and the British Hypertension Society for a list of tested home blood pressure monitors that have been shown to be accurate in repeated uses. These are excellent resources for meters if you don’t have one already.

-Shop around for prices. Many online stores offer lower prices than might be found in local pharmacies. There is a wide range to choose from.

-Avoid public blood pressure machines often found in many larger pharmacies. These machines may not be properly maintained and may measure blood pressure inaccurately and are not recommended.

-Proper use of a home blood pressure monitor is easy but may take a few practice sessions to master. Take the machine to the doctor or practitioner to be sure it is properly calibrated and for her to demonstrate the proper use and fit for accurate readings.

-Measure blood pressure two or three times daily, the first being in the morning before medication has been taken. Always take blood pressure in the left arm. Write down the readings in a log or journal. Many home blood pressure monitors also give readings for pulse rate. Add that to the journal entries.

-When taking a blood pressure reading sit calmly for a few minutes before starting. Make sure legs are uncrossed and feet are flat on the floor. Access to a table, chair arm or other support is important so the arm can be held comfortably at heart level when the blood pressure measurement is taken.

-Wrap the cuff around the portion of the arm where it is meant to be and on bare skin. The cuff should fit firmly when in place before starting the reading. Avoid talking or any movement while taking the reading. Take a second reading several minutes after the first to confirm the accuracy of the monitor.

-Contact the doctor if readings vary greatly from one another. Blood pressure measurements vary slightly throughout the day and readings can be slightly higher in the mornings. Ask what level a normal reading is for your condition and what level would trigger an immediate call to the doctor. Write these at the beginning of the log in case you forget.

Always have home blood pressure monitors checked by a practitioner for calibration when new. Continue to have the machine rechecked several times a year to ensure its accuracy.

When taking measurements with a home blood pressure monitor, call the doctor or healthcare practitioner if unusual readings occur regularly.
The information offered here is for educational purposes and is not meant to take the place of medical advice.

Do you own a blood pressure monitor? Questions or concerns about buying a home blood pressure monitor?

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