Hypertension is an extremely common cardiovascular condition that can contribute to a number of additional health concerns, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, and even death. If you are identified as “at risk,” your healthcare professional will likely recommend that you self-test your blood pressure at home. This self-test provides an important baseline for your blood pressure that can be used to determine if you really are in danger of developing hypertension or other potentially challenging diseases.
Primary Reasons for Regular In-Home Blood Pressure Monitoring
An at-home self-assessment isn’t just for an individual at risk, though. These regular checks can offer a thorough insight into the health of even the most seemingly well individual and present a variety of benefits, including:
1. Diagnosing hypertension.
Regular at-home monitoring is effective for both helping diagnose hypertension and navigate symptoms that mimic hypertension.
Research involving 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring indicates that most people experience two peaks in their blood pressure each day, typically between 6 and 8AM and later between 5 and 8PM. Your blood pressure is typically elevated between 30 to 50mmHg during these peak periods. Some patients with early hypertension may only experience higher blood pressure during one of the peak periods. Because these peak periods fall outside of the normal schedule of most doctors’ appointment times, you could actually go without a diagnosis. Self-testing provides the opportunity for readings during these peak periods to help your doctor identify early onset hypertension.
In some cases, doctors will administer medical treatment or a prescription medication to you if you are experiencing common symptoms of high blood pressure, such as headache and/or dizziness. However, a true diagnosis can only be made with adequate information in order to rule out external factors that may be causing a rise in blood pressure, including work tension, mood swings, and even personal emergencies. Self-testing helps rule out those extraneous factors and present accurate information to solidify a diagnosis.
2. Identifying “white coat hypertension.”
Some individuals experience elevated blood pressure when in a medical setting due to the stress of being in the doctor’s office or hospital. Self-testing is an effective way to rule out hypertension that may actually just be associated with this situational high blood pressure, known as “white coat hypertension.” This white coat hypertension accounts for as much as 20 percent of the total number of patients diagnosed with hypertension; however, the condition is really only a temporary reactive blood pressure elevation. At-home testing helps identify the situational elevation, but it also helps keep track of your blood pressure should the condition develop into a more aggressive condition. Regular monitoring provides real-life readings of your blood pressure to create a baseline for comparison.
3. Monitoring treatment outcomes.
Individuals experience various symptoms when dealing with high blood pressure. Regular monitoring at home can actually create a baseline for your symptoms and provide valuable information regarding treatment outcomes. This practice will also help you doctor effectively adjust your drug and dosage as needed. Regular monitoring helps your doctor develop a treatment program that is right for you as well as to correct any prior evaluation concerns.
4. Observing complications and administering emergency treatment.
At-home monitoring can also help in detecting complications and delivering emergency treatment should it be needed. Individuals with hypertension may actually suffer different complications, including diabetes, heart disease, hyperlipidemia, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, etc. If you have general hypertension, you need to regulate your blood pressure at 140/90mmHg; however, if you have diabetes or kidney disease, you should control their levels at 130/80mmHg. Additionally, if you have a 24-hour urine protein greater than 1 gram, your pressure should be controlled at 125/75mmHg, or the increase in blood pressure may accelerate the damage to your internal organs. If you experience hypertensive crisis or encephalopathy (blood pressure above 180/140mmHg), you need immediate treatment to avoid potentially fatal complications. Incorporating daily readings of your blood pressure into your routine is an effective way to identify potential emergency situations.
Main Considerations When Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home
If you are testing your blood pressure at home, it’s important that you accurately assess yourself and follow the necessary precautions to get an effective reading. A few things you should consider when monitoring your blood pressure at home include:
- Using the right type of monitor. – There are several different kinds of monitors available for home blood pressure tests. However, it is important to choose the most universally accurate and effective option, which happens to be a sphygmomanometer. This monitor is simple to use and effective for providing an accurate reading.
- Considering timing when testing. – Testing at the right time and following the right procedure is also important for an accurate measurement. Be sure to test your levels between 7 and 8AM and then again between 7 and 8PM. For the most accurate reading and to avoid confounding issues, such as fatigue, emotions, etc., be sure to rest at least 5 minutes before testing. Likewise, you should complete each reading twice, 1 minute apart. At the beginning or following an adjustment of your treatment regimen, you should measure your blood pressure continuously for 3 days and then drop back to 2 to 3 days per week. Also take note of any symptoms, such as dizziness, headache, and swelling, at the time of each reading.
- Maintaining proper positioning. – Keeping the proper positioning when you are testing your levels is also important. You should be in a supine or sitting position with your upper arm, heart, and the monitor at the same level for the most accurate assessment of your blood pressure levels.
- Keeping accurate records. – Keeping accurate records of your readings is also important. With a more traditional monitor, you will need to create a blood pressure record book in which you can record your blood pressure measurement, as well as the date, time, and any symptoms or other pertinent information. However, if you opt for a more complete monitoring system, like the iHealth Feel, you won’t have to go through the trouble of manually recording everything as the system will keep records of everything for you and help you more accurately manage your blood pressure.
Choosing the right at-home monitor is just as important as regularly measuring your blood pressure. An at-home monitor should be convenient, easy to use, and capable of supporting your overall health and wellness. The iHealth Feel Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor does all that and more with its wireless capability, standard arm cuff, instant access reporting, and more. If you haven’t been checking your blood pressure regularly, it’s time you start, and the iHealth Feel can help.
Bonus: The iHealth Feel will be on sale Black Friday at 30% OFF plus free shipping with the code BP30.