By: Karen Yontz Center Staff
Have you been told by your doctor that you should monitor your blood pressure at home? Studies have found that people who monitored their blood pressure at home were more likely to reach their blood pressure goals than those only monitored by their doctor. If you want to reach your blood pressure goals, it is important that you are taking measurements correctly. And yes, it involves a little more than just putting on a cuff and pressing ‘start’.
- Use proper, quality equipment: Buy a monitor that goes around your upper arm and check to make sure the cuff fits you. Wrist or finger monitors are notoriously inaccurate. Cuffs that don’t fit properly can also give you an inaccurate reading.
- Have your monitor properly calibrated: This can be done by your doctor or at The Karen Yontz Center.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and exercise for at least 30 minutes before your take your blood pressure measurement: All of these can increase your blood pressure immediately and will affect your reading.
- Go to the bathroom: Having a full bladder can raise your blood pressure by a few numbers.
- Make sure you have correct posture: Sit upright in a chair with your back supported and feet firmly on the floor. Do not cross your legs or ankles.
- Maintain correct arm position: Support your arm fully on a flat surface.
- Take your reading: Sit quietly for about 5 minutes then wrap the cuff snugly around the upper part of your bare arm. Make sure your sleeve is not in the way of the cuff or, if pushed up, is not constricting your arm. Make sure the center of the cuff is sitting over your artery. Many cuffs will have a line or arrow to help you with placement. Press the ‘start’ button on your machine. Don’t move or talk while taking the test.
- Write down the results of your test. This is important for letting you and your doctor know if anything seems out of the ordinary for you.
One thing to remember is that you shouldn’t go overboard and take your blood pressure constantly. You will likely give yourself the home version of “white coat syndrome” and cause anxiety to make your numbers go up. Try to take your blood pressure only 2 or 3 times a day. Usually in the morning, before you eat or take any medications and once around dinnertime. Take 2 or 3 readings when you do your checks to make sure your numbers stay consistent.
Using these steps to check your blood pressure at home will help you and your doctor set and maintain your blood pressure goals.