Taking the Strain out of Home Blood Pressure Monitoring

HIgh blood pressure, aka hypertension, is a worry to most people and actual medical condition for many. The AHA, American Heart Association will tell you that the blood flow through your veins is a continuously fluctuating process. The infrequent measurement of blood pressure taken at your doctor’s place is miniscule snapshot in time of this vital sign.

Measuring and recording  your blood pressure at home can give you essential information. It is especially important to know whether you genuinely have continuously high blood pressure and how any medication is impacting upon the condition.


However home monitoring is a tricky thing to get right. Too many people make one or more of these simple errors. The first error has already been mentioned. It is relying on the occasional measurement of blood pressure at your doctors. Apart from being not often enough to give you a good picture of your individual blood pressure process. What is normal for you may not be the same thing as normal for the whole population.

White Coat Hypertension?

The doctor’s office is also a place almost guaranteed to raise your blood pressure to extraordinary levels. These readings are likely to be over both your normal and the so-called healthy norm. At home, really is the only sensible place to do your blood pressure checks. It’s the place to get to know your normal process and only then will you be able to spot chronic problems or urgent deviations from the norm.

[box type=”note”]Many studies have shown that the home is THE place to check your blood pressure. People who do this also prove to be 50% more effective in benefiting from their medications.[/box]


Coffee and Your Blood Pressure?

The second of the most common home measuring of blood pressure monitoring is doing it just after your regular shot of caffeine. Either just before or during a BP check a cup of coffee is a big no. Caffeine of course is a stimulant, so you are giving yourself an extraordinary shot in the arm which makes your blood pressure in no way representative. Even a quick soda can distort your blood pressure trend for the same reason.

To take a good representative measure of your blood pressure you should sit down and rest for 5 minutes before. Keep both feet flat on the ground and your arms at rest. Be sure to have an empty bladder too. Never take your BP immediately after exercise or a big meal or a hot bath or after imbibing a little alcohol.

Another common BP monitoring error is putting the monitor on wrong or getting the cuff size wrong for you. Too small or too big can cause a false reading. The best answer is to use a device that goes around your wrist. These are much simpler and comfortable to fit than the ones that traditionally go round the upper left arm. Then of course everybody needs to chart their readings so that they become very familiar with their blood flow patterns and can instantly recognise deviations from the norm. 7 readings above your normal trend line is cause for concern. 3 high spikes outside of your upper or lower limit lines are also cause for a visit to your doctor.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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