How to Take Your Blood Pressure at Home

Updated on May 19, 2018
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I have worked hard to stay fit and understand the complex relationship between aging, nutrition, and exercise.

How to Take Your Own Blood Pressure with a Home Monitor

There's no need to go to the doctor once you know how to take your blood pressure at home. We have all had our blood pressure taken in a doctor office, and many of us also take advantage of the free blood pressure monitor at the pharmacy or health club. The feeling of the machine slowly tightening the cuff around your upper arm can be a little unnerving, but a high blood pressure check is really one of the easiest things you can do to take care of yourself. If you're wondering how to take your blood pressure without even leaving home, I can offer some advice.

I leaned how to take my blood pressure with the use of a very simple device, a home blood pressure monitor. This small home unit works the same as the one in your doctor's office, by measuring the pressure that your blood is putting on the walls of your veins and arteries. There are two measures taken: your systolic blood pressure measures the pressure exerted when you heart beats, and your diastolic pressure measures the pressure between the beats. These two numbers represent your total blood pressure, so that's why your doctor or the readout on the blood pressure monitor will typically give the results in two numbers, for example "120 over 80," or "120/80." Once you know how to measure your blood pressure with one of these easy devices, you can keep a watch on your numbers from home.


High Blood Pressure Update!

Recent changes to the standards that health care professionals use to diagnose high blood pressure (hypertension) have changed, and not for the better. In fact, many of us who were on the edge of having HBP are now, overnight, officially afflicted with hypertension. Now, more than ever, it's important to know your blood pressure numbers!

How to Choose a Good Home Blood Pressure Monitor -- My Experience

Once I decided I need to learn how to keep an eye on my hypertension at home, I did some research. I like this unit by Generation Guard because it's so compact and easy to use. The design combines the readout and the cuff, so you don't have to deal with tubes or wires. While the Omron that I have (see below) does have two separate components, it has never really bothered me. This HBP monitor is definitely worth considering if you're wondering how to track your hypertension without running out to the doctor every two weeks.

Features include instant monitoring, with a large screen digital display; systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings along with the heart rate; clinical accuracy; memory recall feature that remembers previous readings; and 100% satisfaction guaranty.

This model also has spectacular user ratings, with over 2,000 rankings and a 4.5 average on Amazon.

Another Good Home BP Monitor: The Omron 10 Series

I narrowed my choice for my own home blood pressure monitor down to two Omron models, this one and the one following. The Bluetooth-equipped 10 series costs about twice as much as the 5 series, but it's wireless -- in other words, it connects to your computer or phone so you can track our results digitally. That's a pretty amazing feature, similar to the technology now being used in fat-measuring bathroom scales ("smart scales"). I have used a bluetooth smart scale for a couple of years now, and I really like the technology, but I didn't really need it for my blood pressure monitor.

If you know how to use wireless or bluetooth tech, then the 10 series might appeal to you more.

Good health and good sense are two of life's greatest blessings.

— Publilius Syrus

My Choice: The Omron 5 Series

This is the model that I ultimately went with, mainly for its combination of cost and features. The battery has lasted forever, and the results really match up well with what I get at the pharmacy and the health club. In my doctor's office it's a different matter, and the blood pressure monitor always reads considerably higher than it does at home. I learned that that's not unusual, and is generally due to something called "white coat syndrome" (see below), so it's really valuable for me to have a home monitor to that is dependable and accurate.

The Omron high blood pressure monitor has worked well for me, and I'm confident that it's giving me accurate readings.

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.

Tutorial for Using Your Home Blood Pressure Monitor

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!

A More Expensive Option: QardioArm Wireless Monitor

This is a top-of-the-line unit with a price tag to match. At about $100, it's the priciest monitor on this list, but the features are impressive and the look is sleek and high-tech. Like the Omron described above, it's a wireless unit that delivers data to your phone or computer so you can really keep track of your numbers.

User reviews are good but not stellar; it appears there is a bit of a learning curve with this unit.

I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.

— Joyce Meyer

How to Live With High Blood Pressure

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!

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.

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.

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.

— Mark Twain

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!

Still Wondering How to Take Your Blood Pressure at Home?

I hope this article has helped you come to some conclusions about the importance of learning how to track your blood pressure, at home, at the doctor, or wherever you can. I have discussed some options for those of us with high blood pressure who want to easily monitor our condition. 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.

Resources

The following sources were used for this article:

www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/measure.htm

www.health24.com/.../Hypertension/...hypertension/13-hypertension-facts-201

www.heart.org/.../HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure

Disclaimer

I am not a physician, just a person who has been diagnosed with hypertension. This article is not meant to diagnose or suggest treatment for any physical condition. If you have symptoms or blood pressure readings that are out of the ordinary, see your health professional immediately.

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