(BlackDoctor.org) — Measuring your own blood pressure is a good way to take part in managing your own health and recognizing changes. Your doctor can use your record of measurements to see how well your medicine is working to control your high blood pressure.
Because blood pressure monitors are available widely and without a prescription, home monitoring is an easy step you can take to improve your condition. Before you get started, it’s important to know the right technique and to find a good home blood pressure monitor. This step-by-step guide for using a home blood pressure monitor can help.
Choosing a Monitor
You have the choice of a manual home blood pressure monitor or a digital one. Each has pros and cons, although digital blood pressure monitors are easier to use and to read because readings for both your systolic (when your heart is pumping) and diastolic (when it is at rest) levels flash on the screen. If you own a manual monitor with a manometer (the blood pressure gauge) and stethoscope, practice with a member of your medical team first. If you have a digital monitor, take it to your doctor’s office to make sure it’s calibrated properly.
Step 1: Relax
If you have hypertension, you may need to take your blood pressure at home twice a day — and you’ll want to be relaxed when you do it. Try to take your reading around the same time every day — an hour after you wake up and an hour before bed, for example. Just avoid any stimulants, such as caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol, for at least 30 minutes before a reading. You should also wait 30 minutes after exercising. Finally, empty your bladder before you begin.
Step 2: Take a Seat
Sit down in a comfortable chair next to a desk or table where you can place your home blood pressure monitor. Rest quietly, without talking, for 5 to 10 minutes before you start. Make sure your back is supported, and that your feet are comfortably on the floor with your legs uncrossed. Take your pressure on your non-dominant arm. Lift that forearm to heart level and support it on the desk so it stays comfortably elevated. Open your palm and face it up.
Step 3: Find Your Pulse