How To Check BP At Home: An Guide for Effortless BP Monitoring

Outline:

  • Introduction.
  • What is blood pressure monitoring?
  • How to measure blood pressure? - A step-by-step blood pressure checking process.
  • Tips for using your blood pressure cuff.
  • Digital blood pressure monitors.
  • Measuring blood pressure with a sphygmomanometer.
  • What do blood pressure readings tell you?
  • How often should you measure your blood pressure?
  • Apps to track your blood pressure.
  • FAQs.
  • Conclusion.
Key Takeaways:

* High blood pressure may cause heart attack and stroke. Hence, learning how to check blood pressure at home is crucial prevention.

* You can use either an automated or manual blood pressure cuff.

* Below is a step-by-step guide to measuring BP with digital and manual BP machines.

* Getting accurate BP readings requires proper cuff size, being calm, sitting correctly, and multiple readings.

* Manual monitors provide better accuracy, and digital monitors are easier to use.

Introduction

High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attack or stroke. With India's high prevalence of heart diseases, BP monitoring is vital.

Using an automated blood pressure cuff is the simplest way to check your BP at home. You can also use a manual blood pressure testing machine for more accurate readings. But to measure blood pressure reliably, you must know the proper practices.

Hence, this article will be your comprehensive guide on how to check blood pressure at home, both through digital and manual blood pressure machines.

What is blood pressure monitoring?

Blood pressure monitoring involves regularly assessing the force of blood against the artery's walls as the heart pumps blood around the body. This measurement is expressed in systolic pressure (the force during heartbeats) and diastolic pressure (the force between heartbeats).

There are several methods for blood pressure monitoring, ranging from traditional manual sphygmomanometers to advanced digital devices. Self bp checks aid in detecting potential issues early and empower you with control over your health.

How to measure blood pressure? - A step-by-step blood pressure checking process

  1. Find your pulse: Locate your pulse by lightly pressing your fingers to the inside center of your elbow bend. If you cannot find your pulse, place the head of the stethoscope in the same area.
  2. Fasten the cuff: Set the cuff onto your arm an inch above your elbow fold. Ensure the stethoscope head is over the artery (for manual monitoring).
  3. Inflating and deflating the cuff:
    • For manual BP Machines
      • Hold the pressure gauge in your left hand and the bulb in your right.
      • Close the airflow valve clockwise on the bulb.
      • Inflate the cuff by squeezing the bulb, noting the pulse in the stethoscope.
      • Inflate until the gauge reads 30 points above the expected systolic pressure; pulse in the stethoscope should cease.
      • Slowly release pressure by opening the airflow valve counterclockwise, with the gauge falling 2-3 points per heartbeat.
      • Listen for the initial pulse beat and note the gauge reading as systolic pressure.
      • Continue to deflate the cuff slowly.
      • Note gauge reading when pulse sound disappears, indicating diastolic pressure.
      • Allow the cuff to deflate fully.
    • Digital monitor
      • Hold the bulb in your right hand and press the power button to initiate the monitor.
      • Press the start button to inflate the cuff using the bulb until the gauge reaches 30 points above your expected systolic pressure.
      • Sit quietly as the monitor displays pressure readings, with systolic on the left and diastolic on the right.
      • Listen for a long beep indicating the completion of the measurement, and note the displayed pressures along with your pulse rate.
      • Allow the cuff to deflate after recording the readings.
  4. Record the BP: Record the date and time of taking the BP reading along with the systolic and diastolic BP.

Tips for using your blood pressure cuff

An image with a man checking BP with tips on how to check BP at home written all over the image. And pictures of digital and manual BP monitors are on the side.
Image credit: Blood Pressure UK and Freepik
  • Don't smoke, drink alcohol, or exercise 30 minutes before you take your blood pressure reading.
  • Before measuring your blood pressure, take three to five minutes to rest. Take a few extra minutes if you've been very active lately.
  • Make sure that the cuff you get is the right size. The cuffs come in various sizes, but you should get one that allows you to comfortably slip a finger between your arm and the cuff when deflated.
  • Ensure your spine is upright and your feet are flat on the floor as you sit. It would be best if you didn't cross your feet.
  • Take your blood pressure multiple times daily for the most accurate readings and ranges.
  • To ensure accuracy, take at least two readings every time.
  • Every year, bring your at-home monitor to the doctor's office for calibration and to ensure it works correctly.

Digital blood pressure monitors

Digital blood pressure instruments have made keeping tabs on your BP relatively easy. Unlike the traditional manual devices, these digital counterparts offer features that make blood pressure measurement hassle-free.

Benefits of Digital Monitors

  • Quick Readings: Digital monitors provide rapid and uncomplicated blood pressure readings.
  • Easy to Use: With features like automatic inflation and memory storage, these monitors offer a user-friendly experience.

Measuring blood pressure with a sphygmomanometer

A sphygmomanometer gives you more accurate BP readings than digital BP machines. This is true for both aneroid and mercury sphygmomanometers. Though these devices may be more challenging to use than digital devices, they provide a more accurate picture of your blood pressure. You can quickly learn to use manual BP monitors by following the steps above in the 'How to measure blood pressure' section.

What do blood pressure readings tell you?

When measuring BP at home, you must know what your values mean. Keeping track of your blood pressure will help you lower it instantly if it rises. The following table shows blood pressure ranges and their significance.

A chart showing different blood pressure ranges as a reference while measuring BP at home.
Blood pressure ranges according to the American Heart Association

How often should you measure your blood pressure?

It is best to measure your blood pressure at the same time every day. You should take at least two readings, one in the morning and another in the evening or as instructed by your healthcare provider.

Your BP may vary a little throughout the day, so measuring it at the same time every day will allow you to look more accurately at your daily BP fluctuations.

Apps to track your blood pressure

Health Tracker apps are a valuable tool to monitor and manage Hypertension. BP apps allow you to log your blood pressure readings and offer features. With easy-to-use interfaces, health apps empower you to participate actively in your health.

If you are looking for a convenient way to track your BP, the Aware Health Rewards App is an excellent choice. Aware offers a daily health log and instant analysis to notify you about your readings, indicating whether they are within the normal range or require attention. You will also get daily steps for effective blood pressure management.

For more information, please visit- Hypertension page.

FAQs:

1. Which instrument is used to measure blood pressure?

A sphygmomanometer is used to measure BP. It has an inflatable cuff and a mercury or aneroid manometer to measure the pressure.

Digital blood pressure monitors have also become famous for at-home use, providing a convenient alternative to traditional sphygmomanometers.

2. Can a smartwatch measure blood pressure?

Some smartwatches claim to measure blood pressure, but their accuracy can vary. Dedicated medical devices like conventional blood pressure monitors offer more reliable readings. It is always better to use a sphygmomanometer or digital BP monitor.

3. Which arm to measure blood pressure?

The common practice is to measure BP on the left arm. However, in certain situations, such as when a medical condition or injury affects the left arm, blood pressure may be measured on the right arm.

4. How to read a digital blood pressure monitor?

Observe the display for both systolic and diastolic readings to read results on a digital blood pressure monitor. Systolic is the top number, representing pressure during heartbeats, while diastolic is the bottom number, indicating pressure between heartbeats. Results are typically displayed as "systolic/diastolic mmHg." E.g., 120/80 mm Hg.

Conclusion

Regular blood pressure monitoring is a proactive step towards a healthier life. You can choose a manual sphygmomanometer or a digital BP monitor for your home BP monitoring. Just remember consistency in BP measurement is the key to managing hypertension.

Health apps like Aware further empower you to take charge of your heart health. Regular monitoring, combined with lifestyle adjustments, is crucial in preventing and managing hypertension.

As we conclude this guide, prioritize regular check-ups, leverage technology responsibly, and take steps towards a heart-healthy lifestyle.

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