Strip Diabetes

Hypertension Minotoring &
Blood Pressure

Why Monitor Your Blood Pressure?

Monitoring your blood pressure at home can:
  • Help with early diagnosis. Self-monitoring can help your doctor diagnose high blood pressure earlier than if you have only occasional blood pressure readings in a medical office. Home monitoring is especially important if you have elevated blood pressure or another condition that could contribute to high blood pressure, such as diabetes or kidney problems.
  • Help track your treatment. The only way to know whether your lifestyle changes or medications are working is to check your blood pressure regularly. Monitoring blood pressure changes at home can help you and your doctor make decisions about your treatment, such as adjusting dosages or changing medications.
  • Encourage better control. Self-monitoring can give you a stronger sense of responsibility for your health. You may feel even more motivated to control your blood pressure with an improved diet, physical activity, and proper medication use.
  • Cut your health care costs. Self-monitoring might decrease your number of visits to your doctor or clinic.
  • Check if your blood pressure differs outside the doctor’s office. Some people experience spikes in blood pressure due to anxiety associated with seeing a doctor (white coat hypertension). Other people have normal blood pressure at a clinic but elevated pressure elsewhere (masked hypertension). Monitoring blood pressure at home can help determine if you have true high blood pressure.

Tips for accurate use of a home blood pressure monitor

No matter what type of home blood pressure monitor you choose, proper use requires training and practice. Take the device to your doctor or nurse to make sure the one you’ve chosen is the best fit for you and learn how to use the monitor correctly.

To help ensure accurate blood pressure monitoring at home:
  • Check your device’s accuracy. Before using a monitor for the first time, have your doctor check its accuracy against the office model. Also have your doctor watch you use the device to see if you’re doing it properly.
  • Measure your blood pressure twice daily. The first measurement should be in the morning before eating or taking any medications, and the second in the evening. Each time you measure, take two or three readings to make sure your results are accurate.
  • Don’t measure your blood pressure right after you wake up. You can prepare for the day, but don’t eat breakfast or take medications before measuring your blood pressure. If you
    exercise after waking, take your blood pressure before exercising.
  • Avoid food, caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol for 30 minutes before taking a measurement. Also, go to the toilet first. A full bladder can increase blood pressure slightly.
  • Sit quietly before and during monitoring. When you’re ready to take your blood pressure, sit for five minutes in a comfortable position with your legs and ankles uncrossed and your back supported against a chair. Try to be calm and not think about stressful things. Don’t talk while taking your blood pressure.
  • Make sure your arm is positioned properly. Always use the same arm when taking your blood pressure. Rest your arm, raised to the level of your heart, on a table, desk, or chair arm. You might need to place a pillow or cushion under your arm to elevate it high enough.
  • Place the cuff on bare skin, not over clothing.
  • Take a repeat reading. Wait for one to three minutes after the first reading, and then take another to check accuracy.
clinicians and patients

Blood pressure varies throughout the day, and readings are often a little higher in the morning. Also, your blood pressure might be slightly lower at home than in a medical office, typically by about five points.

Contact your doctor if you have any unusual or persistent increases in your blood pressure. Ask your doctor what reading should prompt an immediate call to the medical office.

Long term benefits of monitoring your blood pressure

If your blood pressure is well-controlled, check with your doctor about how often you need to check it. Your doctor may suggest checking it daily or less often. If you’re just starting home monitoring to evaluate if you have high blood pressure or if you’re making any changes in your medications or other treatments, your doctor may recommend you check your blood pressure starting two weeks after treatment changes and a week before your next appointment.

Home blood pressure monitoring is not a substitute for visits to your doctor, and home blood pressure monitors may have some limitations. Even if you get normal readings, don’t stop or change your medications or alter your diet without talking to your doctor first. However, if continued home monitoring shows your blood pressure is under control, you might be able to make fewer appointments with your doctor.

Monitoring your blood pressure at home doesn’t have to be complicated or inconvenient. In the long run, you might risk fewer complications related to high blood pressure and enjoy a healthier life.