High blood pressure seldom shows any signs or symptoms. That means you can have high blood pressure for a long time and still continue with your day to day life normally.
If this process continues unnoticed for a long period of time, your high blood pressure may damage the vital organs like heart, kidney, liver and the eyes, which might eventually lead to a stroke or even death.
The only way to prevent this from happening is by monitoring your blood pressure on a regular basis. Visiting a doctor or a nurse on a daily basis for monitoring your blood pressure is not possible for a normal individual (well, unless you are working in a hospital set up or you are a health professional yourself!).
So, the only way is to bring a digital blood pressure monitor home and start monitoring the blood pressure yourself. Here is a brief guide that shows you how to measure blood pressure at home properly.
Things To Remember Before Recording Your Blood Pressure
- Use a validated blood pressure monitor.
- Have it recalibrated from its manufacturer every one to two years for more accurate readings.
When And How Many Times To Record The Blood Pressure?
You can measure blood pressure in the mornings or night depending on the individual preferences. The frequency of recording blood pressure may vary from person to person, depending on lifestyle, the severity of the condition and some other factors. It’s better to take your doctor’s advice regarding this before starting to record your blood pressure. Remember that blood pressure levels vary throughout the day in an individual.
That means if you record your blood pressure in the morning and the night on the same day, it might show slight variations. So it is always better to record at the same time of the day every time you take your BP readings. Blood pressure levels are slightly higher during the evening times and are at its lowest during the mornings.
Some Factors Which May Influence Your Blood Pressure Readings
- Sex etc.
Avoid recording your BP immediately after or during any of the above instances.
The Procedure of Recording Blood Pressure, Step By Step
To measure blood pressure at home do the following.
• Choose a quiet place to sit, preferably near a table which is approximately at your shoulder height, at the sitting position.
• Rest for five to ten minutes.
• Sit with your feet flat on the floor.
• Fasten the cuff around your arm. Choosing a right-sized cuff is very important for an accurate reading
• The bladder of the cuff should cover at least 2/3rds of your arms and should not overlap.
• The bottom of the cuff should be at least 2cm above the elbow level
• The space between the cuff and your arm should be of a finger width only.
• Rest the arm at the height of your heart on the table.
• Start your digital BP monitor.
• It will automatically inflate the cuff. It is normal to feel a tightening sensation.
• Once the display on the recorder stands, record your reading.
• Make a minimum of three readings in each session.
• To interpret your recordings you can refer to a blood pressure chart given in the next section.
• If it is consistently above 140/90, it is time to visit your doctor
Blood Pressure Chart: What do The Numbers Say?
The blood pressure chart given below will help you determine the stage of your blood pressure. After recording the BP numbers using the blood pressure monitor, use this chart to see where you stand.
Depending on the stage you can decide on your treatment plan later after consulting your doctor.
How to plan your treatment based on the numbers in the blood pressure chart?
After you measure blood pressure, record the number and note down your systolic (upper number) and Diastolic (lower number) readings. Then compare it with the blood pressure chart to determine your current blood pressure status.
#1. If your systolic is less than 90 or diastolic is less than 60 or both then you lie in the “low blood pressure” or “hypotension” zone.
Advice- The treatment plan for this mainly involves dietary changes to include more amount of salt in the food etc.
#2. If your SBP or upper number is in 90-120 and lower or DBP is in the 60-80 range, your blood pressure is normal.
Advice- Keep up the good work. Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and exercise plan.
#3. If your SBP or upper number is at 120-139 and lower number or DBP is in the 80 – 89 range, you are in the “Prehypertension” stage.
Advice- Time to wake up! Make the necessary changes in the lifestyle. Change your diet and include exercise in your routine. Keep a check on your BP level. Monitor it regularly, at least once a month. If you notice a little rise in the levels, don’t panic. Wait for a month. If the BP is still on the rise, consult your doctor.
#4. If your SBP or upper number is at 140-159 and lower number or DBP is in the 90 – 99 range, you are in the first stage of hypertension.
Advice- If your BP is consistently in that range for more than two months then Consultation with your doctor is a must. Start on with your medication. A maintenance dose of anti-hypertensive will be prescribed. The dosage will depend on your age and the severeness of the disease. Combine this medication with the necessary lifestyle changes. Don’t forget to include at least one or two alternative medicine in your treatment plan. It will help for sure. Getting rid of that extra fat and lowering your cholesterol level is a must.
#5. If your SBP or upper number is more than 160 or lower number or DBP is more than 100 or both then you are in the high-risk zone or Stage 2 of hypertension.
Advice- Immediate intervention is required. Contact your doctor today. More than one medication will be prescribed in most cases. Don’t jump out and go for the exercise very next day. Keep calm. Wait for a week at least to let the BP return to normal levels. A more detailed approach towards changing your diet and exercise plan is recommended.
In the next section, we will learn in detail about high blood pressure monitors and the high blood pressure diet.