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Why a Home Blood Pressure Monitor Is Important

Updated on May 4, 2017
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Writer, teacher, parent, musician, and nature freak. This is my story of living with high blood pressure.

Home Blood Pressure Monitor Basics

A home blood pressure monitor is an affordable, accurate way to measure and track your blood pressure, which is a critical indicator of your health. If it's high, a condition also called hypertension, the negative effects can occur throughout your body. Hypertension typically has few to no symptoms, and it can arise over the course of several years. As I learned from my doctor, untreated hypertension can kill you. Having a home blood pressure monitor means you can learn your own blood pressure numbers, instantly and accurately. With this information you can decide if it's time to see your doctor.

These devices work the same as the one in your doctor's office. They have a soft cuff that goes around your upper arm and inflates automatically until it feels snug. The blood pressure reading takes about 10 seconds and is shown on a large digital read-out. It's advised that you take your blood pressure several times and use the average as your base number. You should also take your BP when you're as relaxed as possible. In this way, a home monitor can give you important information about an aspect of your health that you may not know is a problem.

Why Is a Home Blood Pressure Monitor Important?

A quality blood pressure monitor for your home is affordable, easy to operate, and fits easily in a dresser drawer. I got mine online and I was surprised by how inexpensive it was -- and it's the exact same kind as they have at my health club. It works the same way the machine in your doctor’s office does, with a battery-powered motor that inflates a cuff around your arm. The readings are accurate and will tell you anytime you want exactly what your blood pressure numbers are. When you know your BP, you know whether it’s something you should worry about or not. If it’s high, you need to see your doctor!

Monitor your hypertension and you'll know if you're at risk!

"Treat it for Life"

My High Blood Pressure Story

I am one of millions of Americans who are battling high blood pressure. My experience with this frustrating condition is not unlike others’ – checking it at the monitor at the drug store while waiting for my prescription to be filled, I was surprised to learn that my blood pressure was really high – 150 over 98! I checked it a few days later at my health club, and it was even higher. I’m male, over 50, in reasonable shape, with high blood pressure on both sides of my family – in other words, a perfect candidate for the condition. A check-up with my general practitioner confirmed it, but instead of going on meds, I was prescribed a low-salt diet and more exercise. She also told me to buy a home blood pressure monitor and keep track of it myself, and to report back to her in a few weeks. While my BP is still a bit high, I’m working on it!

Why Your Blood Pressure Matters

My doctor gave me some good literature on blood pressure, and I did some basic research of my own. If you have already been diagnosed, you probably know some of this, but if you’re just starting to suspect you have this condition, it might be worth going over some of the more serious implications. Getting a little scared about high blood pressure is actually a very good idea, since treating it early can literally make the difference between life and death. Hypertension can quietly damage your body for years without showing any symptoms, and if you don’t do anything about it, you may wind up with permanent damage to your body. Among the more serious outcomes are heart attack, stroke, and kidney damage.

Blood Pressure and Your Kidneys

Your kidneys filter your blood and remove excess fluid and waste. When your blood pressure is high, the blood vessels that feed the blood to these organs are under stress. The result is scarring and damage, and ultimately your kidneys can completely fail, leaving you to deal with dialysis, or even leaving you dead. But this is just one way in which hypertension puts you at risk for death at an early age.

Both stroke and aneurysms are medical emergencies and can easily be fatal. Hypertension is a major contributor to these serious brain events.

Blood Pressure and Brain Trauma

The blood in the vessels in your brain is under unnatural pressure when you’re hypertensive. The result is slow and steady damage to the walls of the vessels, and you’re at a higher risk of one of them bursting, causing bleeding into your brain. This is also know as an aneurysm, and it’s very much like a stroke, which is a blockage of one of the vessels and the subsequent starving of your brain for oxygen. The damage from an incident like this can be permanent, and of course a serious event like an aneurysm is often fatal. Stroke and aneurysms are only one outcome of prolonged hypertension, but they are among the most devastating. When we know about our blood pressure, we can take steps to prevent this terrible outcome.

Tutorial for Using Your Home Blood Pressure Monitor

Exercise helps protect your heart

Blood Pressure and Heart Disease

Like every other organ in your body, high blood pressure does steady, serious damage if uncontrolled over time. The stress from increased pressure in your veins and arteries creates damage in your heart, and many people with undiagnosed and untreated hypertension wind up with serious heart disease later in life. With your heart working so hard to pump the blood throughout your body, it will wear out faster than it has to.

Blood Pressure and Dementia

Dementia is a term used to refer to a number of related conditions that all have some effect on your cognition, or thinking ability. In some cases it affects memory, but it can also damage your ability to understand language or control emotions. Dementia can arise from high blood pressure when it’s caused by damage to the vessels in your brain. Similar to stroke and aneurysm, dementia is an outcome of the increased pressure that hypertension puts on these sensitive vessels. Transient ischemic attack, a kind of temporary “mini stroke,” is also a possible outcome of hypertension. In all cases, these events can be traced back to constant increased pressure on blood vessel walls. Monitor your hypertension and you'll know if you're at risk!

To Your Health!

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