How to monitor blood pressure at home

With so common high blood pressure issues in our society these days, it’s critical to know how to monitor blood pressure at home. This will not only help you confirm that your and your family members blood pressure is going in good range, but also to confirm if they’re suffering from high blood pressure (hypertension) or low blood pressure (hypotension) when they get any related symptoms.

Methods to monitor blood pressure

There are various methods of checking the blood pressure, however all might not be suitable for everyone and every condition. Some of the methods are:

  1. Using manual sphygmomanometer (bp apparatus) and stethoscope
  2. Using automatic bp apparatus
    1. Above elbow bp apparatus (more accurate than wrist)
    2. Wrist bp apparatus (least accurate)
  3. Various techniques doctors know and use when there is no bp apparatus (risky if you’re not a doctor, or even if you’re)

Best method to monitor blood pressure at home

Recommended method to monitor blood pressure at home is to either use the automatic above elbow bp apparatus or the manual one.

Manual one is recommended because it’s more accurate, however it involves 2 persons and more skill. That’s why it might not be suitable for all households, especially if you live alone.

Automatic bp apparatus whose cuff is applied above the elbow is recommended for most people. There are wrist based bp apparatus in market too, however they’re highly unreliable and less accurate than the above elbow one due to various reasons. So prefer getting the above elbow one.

However, if you’re unable to find an automatic above elbow bp apparatus, then you can also go for the wrist one. But make sure that you understand that it’s not accurate and can have as much as 20-30 units difference too.

How to monitor blood pressure at home using Digital BP Apparatus

Automatic bp apparatus are usually digital.

Once you’ve made sure that the apparatus is accurate (discussed below how to), you should ask any skilled person (preferably a doctor) to teach you how to monitor blood pressure using it.

The main technique goes like this:

  1. The person should be lying comfortably in bed for at least 5 minutes, with no physical activity.
  2. The to be cuffed should be lying comfortably, with no tone in muscles. It should not be hanging in air or shoulder or elbow or hands taking load at all.
  3. Tie the cuff around the humerus, ending an inch above the elbow joint
  4. The pressure sensing part of the cuff should towards the inside of the elbow joint
  5. Press the button as per your bp apparatus to automatically inflate the cuff and record the blood pressure
  6. There should be no movement or even stiffening of the muscles of arm or any other body part during the whole process
  7. Repeat the process at least twice, especially if the bp reading is not within normal range.

how to monitor blood pressure at home

What is normal Blood Pressure range

Normal blood pressure range is highly variable and depends upon the patients age, diseases, any medication they’re taking, time of checking blood pressure, type of apparatus used, etc.

However, a commonly normal blood pressure range is between 140/100 to 100/70 mm of hg. Which means that the systolic (above) value should be between 100-140 and the diastolic (below) value should be between 70 to 100.

But again, do discuss with your doctor about what’s normal in your case. Some patients might be at risk even if their blood pressure reaches 140/100 too.

What is BP Charting

Blood pressure charting means recording the blood pressure. You can have various ways of recording the blood pressure readings for future reference.

It’s important that you record the values every time you measure your blood pressure. You’re missing the entire point of monitoring blood pressure if you’re not recording the exact values with the date and time. You should in fact also include any uncommon thing on that day if that disturbed the blood pressure, for future reference. E.g. if you had a meal from outside, or something specific, or any incident happened, etc., that resulted in altered blood pressure, note that down in the remarks too.

The commonest bp charting goes like this:

Date Morning Evening Remarks
22/03/2016 120/70 130/80
23/03/2016 120/80 160/100 Had salted biscuits
24/03/2016 120/80 120/70

You can alter this chart as per your needs too. However, you should monitor at least twice a day, at almost same time of the day.

Take this chart to the doctor next time you visit them.

How to make sure your apparatus and technique is accurate

If you’re starting to monitor blood pressure for first time or starting to use the device first time, it’s better to compare its results with someone skilled.

Check the bp with your apparatus and record it. At the same time (don’t delay more than few mins even) ask someone skilled to check the bp from “manual” bp apparatus and record both results.

Do this for at least 7 days or as much as you can, to make sure that your device is accurate or to figure out the common error range in it.

What to do if blood pressure is high or low?

Go to the hospital. If you can’t, then call the doctor and tell this to him. People usually damage themselves or their loved ones, trying to find home remedies and helps from people who know nothing about blood pressure and its consequences. It’s fine to look weird and fool in a hospital than to damage or even cause death at home.

If you’re having high blood pressure, don’t wait and rush to the hospital, till you go there though, you can try these steps to lower down blood pressure at home in emergency. But remember, high and low blood pressure (hypertension and hypotension), both can be highly dangerous and can lead to death or permanent disability too, so don’t take them lightly.

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Dr Khan

Doctor (mbbs) and fitness trainer. Join me at :   Facebook   -  Google+   -  Twitter

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