Chronic Conditions
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    How to Check Blood Pressure From Home

    Can you check your blood pressure at home?

    Yes, you can check your blood pressure from the comfort of your own home. Being able to check your blood pressure at home has saved people hundreds of hours of trying to get a doctor's appointment for such a routine check. By using home blood pressure monitors, you will be able to get an accurate insight into your blood pressure, right from the comfort of your own home. However, knowing how to do so correctly can be tricky, and many people will become confused as to how to actually use the machine, or what the results mean.

    Some machines will not show results as easy to read figures, and you will need to know how to interpret your results. In this article, we will provide you with everything you need to know to check your blood pressure from home successfully. 

    How do I use a home blood pressure monitor?

    When you purchase a home blood pressure monitor, you will always receive an instruction booklet that provides with you precise instructions on how to use the blood pressure monitor correctly. Despite this, some people will still struggle, leading to inaccurate results and potential misdiagnosis of low, or high, blood pressure. Whilst every blood pressure monitor will be different, there are always similar characteristics that you will notice.

    Step 1 - Ensure that you are resting and calm.

    When you take your blood pressure you should ensure that you are calm and relaxed so that your results are not distorted. 

    Step 2 - Place your feet flat on the floor and your arm flat on a table. 

    On the arm that you choose to test with, you should ensure it is relaxed and flat against a table. You should also never clench your fist, as this can affect results.

    Step 3 - Place the cuff of the monitor over your arm. 

    The cuff of the monitor is the sleeve that goes around your arm. Place this around your bicep, with the tubing going down the inside of your arm. You should be able to get two fingers easily in between the cuff and your arm.

    Step 4 - Press the button on the machine and relax, do not talk.

    On your machine, there should be an ‘on’ or a ‘start’ button. This will make the cuff tighten around your arm. The cuff will inflate and deflate and may feel tight or uncomfortable. If it is too tight, consider turning the machine off. 

    Step 5 - Make a note of the reading once the test is done.

    Once the monitor has finished a reading should appear on it, depending on the model. You should make a note of this reading, we will explain what the reading means soon.

    Step 6 - Repeat the test to ensure the results are accurate.

    In order to ensure that the results are accurate, you should take the test again following the steps above. By getting multiple readings you will be able to notice any anomalies in the results that may have occurred for different reasons, for example, if you are not relaxed enough. 

    Of course, some blood pressure monitors may have different controls depending on the model they are, but as previously stated, the instructions included should be clear enough to follow along without any mistakes.

    What do blood pressure readings mean?

    When you test your blood pressure, you will receive two readings. Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury, or mmHg. This is shown as the systolic number, which is also known as the upper number, and the diastolic number, also known as the lower number. 

    Understanding blood pressure readings

    The upper number shows your blood pressure when your heart pushes blood out, and the lower number shows your blood pressure when your heart rests in between beats. The upper number will likely always be higher than the lower number. There are parameters that constitute healthy blood pressure, as well as high and low blood pressure. According to the NHS, these are:

    Healthy blood pressure - Upper number between 90mmHg and 120mmHg. Lower number between 60mmHg and 80mmHg.

    High blood pressure (hypertension) - Upper number higher than 140mmHg, lower number higher than 90mmHg.

    Low blood pressure (hypotension) - Upper number lower than 90mmHg, lower number lower than 60mmHg.

    If you take a reading that significantly differs from your other reading, you may have not been calm when taking the test and should retake it.

    If your test reading is between 120mmHg and 140mmHg for the upper number, and a lower number reading of between 80mmHg and 90mmHg, you may be at risk of having high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension, you have a higher risk of potentially having a heart attack, a stroke, or heart failure, as well as much more. Thankfully, there is medication you can take in order to manage hypertension. 

    Similarly, hypotension is when your body has a low blood pressure. When you have low blood pressure you may experience symptoms such as nausea, and even fainting.

    How do I check blood pressure at home without a monitor?

    It is strongly recommended that if you are wanting to check your blood pressure from home then you should always use a home blood pressure monitor. This is the only way to reliably get accurate results. 

    One method people use to check their blood pressure, or more so their heart rate, is by placing their fingers on their pulse, and counting the number of beats they feel in 10 seconds. You then multiply this number by 6 in order to learn your heart rate in beats per minute. Whilst this is a good way to measure bpm, it is not a reliable way to monitor blood pressure.

    How often should you check your blood pressure?

    How often you should check your blood pressure depends on a number of different factors. For example, if you have a healthy blood pressure, and are in general good health, you will not need to check it as often as someone who, say, has high blood pressure and is susceptible to potential conditions. 

    If you have high blood pressure, you may wish to check it at least twice a day to ensure that it is at a steady rate, doing a couple of tests each time to ensure results are accurate. You may wish to have your blood pressure checked by a doctor once every year. If your blood pressure is healthy, you will not need to regularly check your blood pressure. For healthy adults, blood pressure may be checked by a doctor once every five years.

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