Monitor Your Blood Pressure

Checking your blood pressure at home

Are you one of those people who when they visit the Doctors their blood pressure goes up? Well you are not alone, many people experience what is sometimes known as ‘White Coat Syndrome’.

While your Doctor will always be keen to keep an eye on your blood pressure it can help if you take your own readings at home and if you do, please make sure to record them. This will make your next visit to your doctor less stressful, especially if you hand in your last 7 – 10 days results, some 48hrs prior to your visit.

Taking you own blood pressure at home is thankfully very simple, due to some lightweight units now available from Chemists and some stores such as Argos. You may even find your doctor using the same model.

Tips for checking your own blood pressure

There are some things that can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure, these include:

  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Cold temperatures
  • Exercise
  • Caffeine
  • Certain medicines

It is a good idea to take your blood pressure at the same time each day and if you have a stressful job, it might be useful to take it more than once a day. Avoiding stressful activities prior to taking your blood pressure is recommended.

First, lets go and seek out a quiet place, feeling relaxed is the best way to start! Its a good idea to to pay a visit to the bathroom as well. A full bladder can easily affect your readings.

Now we need to make sure you are relaxed and sitting comfortably with your arm rested, about heart height. Leave you hand open too, a clenched fist will not give you a normal reading.

Step-by-step blood pressure check

If you do go and purchase a digital blood pressure monitor (sphygmomanometer), please ensure you follow the instruction booklet carefully.

You can take your blood pressure on either arm, but it’s a good idea to always use the same arm for your readings, as they can be different!

The procedure is relatively simple and consists of:

Threading  the cuff end back through the metal loop before placing it onto your arm. Some cuffs are marked with an arrow. This should be lined up towards the centre of your inner elbow, around 2.,5 cm above the crease.

Now, just press the power button. You might need to press it again but most modern units will start up after a short pause, automatically.

Relax, it can take a couple of minutes or so before you are given the results, during which time the cuff will expand and squeeze your arm. Don’t worry, this is normal and necessary for an accurate reading.

An average reading for blood pressure is between 120 / 80 and 140 / 90. If yours is outside these limits then its worth getting your doctor, or surgery nurse to check it for you.

Record your blood pressure

Jot down the reading in a notebook and take this along next time you visit the surgery. It will help the doctor access is medication is needed or if you simply suffer from White Coat Syndrome every time you see him or her!

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