Do not be surprised at your next visit to a doctor if your doctor focuses on monitoring blood pressure, including monitoring at home.
In early March, the American Heart Association published an updated scientific opinion on blood pressure measurements. While much of the information is aimed at how doctors in the office should handle surveillance, there are also indications as to who should monitor blood pressure at home. And you could belong to that .
Knowing your numbers (not just blood pressure, but cholesterol and blood sugar) is a critical way to control your health, including your risk for heart disease and diabetes. "We're taking everyone's blood pressure in the office," says Barbara Keber, MD, family medicine director at Glen Cove Hospital, Northwell Health, Glen Cove, NY.
A number of situations can affect your doctor's decision to suggest home monitoring, she says. Some people are under a lot of pressure in the office, but say they are just nervous. Others may already have high blood pressure and the doctor wants to keep an eye on the numbers. Others may have "masked hypertension", but office pressure is not high but is considered high in other settings.
With many home monitor options, how do you choose? "I ask the patients to get a blood pressure cuff that fits over the top of the arm," says Keber. This is also preferred by the Heart Association experts to the models that measure pressure on the wrist. Why? The arteries stiffen with age, she says. "A cuff on the upper arm is closer to the main blood vessel, the brachial artery," says Keber. "The farther the cuff is from this artery, the less accurate the reading."
Heart experts also recommend home devices that can store readings, along with the date and time of picking that can be displayed on the screen. printed or forwarded to her doctor.
Keber asks patients to bring their home monitor with them every time they visit the office, and she will check their accuracy with their office monitor.
The AHA experts recommend the use of home devices validated by either the British and Irish Hypertension Society or the Dabl Education Trust. Senior Planet went over to the sites and found the Dabl lists and the Hypertension Society lists for home use.
Then we randomly selected three devices from this list that were measured on the upper arm, as recommended by the AHA. ( Note : The list is not an endorsement.) Check with your doctor first if your chosen monitor is right for you.)
Among the many options:
- Panasonic EW31
- Braun BP 6200. This monitor includes the detection of irregular heartbeat and morning hypertension with an average mode of the last 7 days, morning and evening. More details here.
- A & D UA-767 Plus – The Plus is an upgrade to the regular UA-767; It has a large display, a last read request and a one-touch measurement. More details here.
Usually, the insurance does not cover blood pressure monitors for the home. Googling can often give you a better price. Some models are under 50 USD. Amazon and the manufacturer websites are good sources.
While several smartphone apps have been developed to measure blood pressure, the AHA statement says validation studies have not been performed on most. So far, according to the experts, mobile health apps have shown poor accuracy compared to the recommended home monitors.
Tips for Success for a Precise Home Reading:
- Let yourself sit quietly for at least 5 minutes; Do not speak at this time and do not type.
- Sit with your back up, feet on the floor, and legs uncrossed.
- Place the cuff on your bare arm, not over your clothes and directly over the bend in your arm. Support the arm with the cuff on it on a flat surface such as a table.
- Ask your doctor about the best time of day to measure. and how often. Keber says it depends on the patient. If she wants to find out if a patient has high blood pressure, "I usually say it several times a week." Once someone stabilizes, it can go well once a week or two weeks, she says.
Tell us: Do you have a tip, a monitor that you love, and how you can monitor your blood pressure?