Learn to control your blood pressure at home
Blood Pressure is an important health indicator that changes as you go through your day depending what activity you are doing, what your stress level is and when you last had a big meal. A recent Harvard Medical School study shows that for every 100 people with high blood pressure, 70 don’t have it under control.
At home tracking of blood pressure makes sense for people with hypertension, weight issues, smokers and people with a family history of high blood pressure.
There are hundreds of home blood pressure kits on the market with varying levels of accuracy. Monitors with cuffs for the upper arm as opposed to finger or wrist monitors are recommended by the American Heart Association for better accuracy. Here are a few tips from Harvard Medical School to help you monitor your blood pressure:
-To get the most accurate blood pressure reading, support your arm at heart level, wrap the cuff around your bare upper arm, and follow the directions on your machine.
-There are two things to do before you start. First, check your machine against the one in your doctor's office. Second, make sure you have the right size cuff—the inflatable part should encircle at least 80% of your upper arm.
When you first start to check your blood pressure at home, measure it early in the morning, before you have taken your blood pressure pills, and again in the evening, every day for a week. After that, follow the plan your doctor recommends, or check it one or two days a month. Each time you take a reading:
• Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, and don't smoke, during the 30 minutes before the test.
• Sit quietly for five minutes with your back supported and feet on the floor.
• When taking the measurement, support your arm so your elbow is at the level of your heart.
• Push your sleeves out of the way and wrap the cuff over bare skin. Measure your blood pressure according to the machine's instructions.
• Leave the deflated cuff in place, wait a minute, then take a second reading. If the readings are close, average them. If not, repeat again and average the three readings.
• Don't panic if a reading is high. Relax for a few minutes and try again.
• Keep a record of your blood pressure readings and the time of day they are taken.
Checking blood pressure at home won't cure hypertension, but it will help control the most common cause of stroke and a big contributor to heart attack, heart failure, and premature death.
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