Health After 50
Why You Should Monitor Your Blood Pressure at Home
A home blood pressure monitor is not a substitute for regular visits to your doctor's office. However, experts now recommend that all people with high blood pressure purchase a home monitor to follow their blood pressure between office visits. Two types of home monitors are available: aneroid and electronic. Aneroid monitors consist of a cuff, stethoscope, and dial gauge; electronic monitors, a cuff and monitor with a digital screen.
Experts are now calling for people to do more monitoring of their blood pressure at home. Research reported in the journal Hypertension (volume 52, page 10) shows that home measurements, compared with those taken at a doctor's office, provide a more complete picture of average blood pressure levels and better predict the risk of a heart attack or stroke. They also offer instant feedback as to whether or not your efforts to lower blood pressure are working.
For these reasons, experts recommend that all people with known or suspected high blood pressure purchase a home blood pressure monitor and also receive instruction on its use from a healthcare professional.
The average of two to three readings taken in the morning and evening for a week provides a reliable estimate of blood pressure. Cutoffs for diagnosing high blood pressure from home readings are lower: A home blood pressure reading above 135/85 mm Hg is considered hypertension. However, for those with coronary heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease, the cutoff is still 130/80 mm Hg.
The experts also advised that a home monitor should have a cuff that wraps around the upper arm (not the wrist) and that you should take the monitor to your doctor's office once a year to check its accuracy. Monitors typically cost less than $100.
Posted in Hypertension and Stroke on March 9, 2010
Reviewed January 2011
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