Properly checking your blood pressure at home is one way to be proactive with your health and well-being. Why? Untreated high blood pressure can silently harm your body.
If left untreated, it can damage your kidneys, heart, brain and other organs (without symptoms) for many months.
In you are interested in checking your blood pressure, you can purchase blood pressure cuffs at any local pharmacy. A blood pressure cuff that goes on the upper arm is the best; however, a wrist cuff is an acceptable alternative. When you are ready to start monitoring, Stacey Brandt, a Nurse Practitioner at the Aurora Health Center in Slinger, recommends following these steps:
- Take your blood pressure at the same time every day, such as in the morning or evening.
- Wait at least 30 minutes after smoking, eating or exercising. Don’t drink coffee, tea, soda, or other caffeinated drinks before checking your blood pressure. If needed, use the restroom beforehand.
- Sit comfortably at a table with both feet on the floor. Don’t cross your legs or feet. Place the monitor near you.
- Rest for a few minutes before you begin. Make sure there are no distractions. This includes TV, cell phones and other electronics. Wait to have conversations with others until after you measure you blood pressure.
- Wrap the cuff:
- Place your arm on the table, palm up.
- Your arm should be at the level of your heart.
- Wrap the cuff around your upper arm, just above your elbow. It’s best done on bare skin, not over clothing.
- Most cuffs will show you where the blood vessel in the middle of the arm at the inner side of the elbow (the brachial artery) should line up with the cuff. Look in your monitor’s instruction booklet for an illustration.
- You can also bring your cuff to your health care provider if you need further instruction.
- Inflate the cuff:
- Push the button that starts the pump.
- The cuff will tighten, then loosen.
- The numbers will change. When they stop changing, your blood pressure reading will appear.
- Take 2 or 3 readings 1 minute apart.
- Write down the results of each reading:
- Write down your blood pressure numbers for each reading. Note the date and time. Keep your results in one place, such as a notebook. Even if your monitor has a built-in memory, keep a hard copy of the readings.
- Bring your blood pressure records with you to each health care provider visit.
- If you start a new blood pressure medicine, note the day you started the new medicine. Also note the day if you change the dose of your medicine.
- Measure your blood pressure before your take your medicine. This information goes on your blood pressure recording sheet. This will help your healthcare provider check how well the medicine changes are working.
- Ask your provider what numbers mean that you should call him or her. Also ask what numbers mean you should get help right away.