Your blood pressure changes every minute. Every activity you do influences your blood pressure continuously. When you take a blood pressure reading, you only take a snapshot of a constantly fluctuating event happening in your body. The blood pressure is usually high when you take the reading at the doctor's office, because of the anxiety involved. This is why doctors nowadays recommend home blood pressure monitors. You can take the readings in the comfort of your own home using a digital blood pressure monitor.
Advantages of Using a Blood Pressure Monitor at Home
With a blood pressure monitor at home, you can record a wider range of blood pressure readings in a day and give your doctor a better picture of your condition. You get more accurate blood pressure readings at home than at a doctor's office, because you are more relaxed and less anxious when you are at home.
You can also save a lot of time, which would have been otherwise lost in travelling to a clinic just to check your blood pressure. However, you must not substitute this comfort for the compulsory regular visits to your doctor.
The latest digital blood pressure monitors observe the blood pressure automatically without you having to check your pulse using a stethoscope. This means the results are free from human error, are more effective and easier to read than the aneroid monitor with gauges and dials. These have large LCD displays that show the observations in mmHg and require less skill to operate than the aneroid monitors.
Types of Blood Pressure Monitors
Primarily there are two types of blood pressure monitors or sphygmomanometers - Aneroid and Automatic. Aneroid monitors are the ones you see at the doctor's office. It has a cuff that is inflated using a rubber bulb, a dial gauge and a stethoscope. Doctors use these monitors, because they have greater manual dexterity and can take the readings accurately. They do it by listening to the Korotkoff sounds that correspond to the systolic and diastolic pressures using a stethoscope.
Automatic or digital blood pressure monitors take the readings automatically. It has a cuff, a digital monitor and a rubber bulb, albeit in less expensive versions. In fully automatic digital monitors like the Pro Logic PL 100, the bulb is completely avoided as the inflation and deflation of the cuff is managed automatically by the machine itself. The digital monitors read the blood pressure oscillometrically, measuring the vibration of blood flowing through the arteries and converting them into digital signals.
Taking Blood Pressure Readings
For accurate blood pressure recording, you should remain calm and still when the monitor is operating. Keep in mind the following steps when you check your blood pressure at home using an automatic monitor.
- Although the monitors can read the blood pressure through a thin layer of clothing, it is recommended that you remove any tight clothing on your arm before placing the cuff.
- Sit in a chair and place your feet on the floor. Turn your palm upward and rest your arm on the table in such a way that your arm-cuff is at the same level as your heart.
- Ensure that the cuff is secured firmly around the arm, but do not wrap it too tightly as it can affect the reading. You should be able to fit a finger between the cuff and your arm without any difficulty. You should also ensure you are wearing the cuff correctly if it has specific instructions for how it should be positioned on your arm.
- Make sure that there is no obstruction in the air tubing and click the button on your monitor to initiate the reading.
- Remain calm and silent when the digital monitor is taking the reading, as moving and talking can disrupt the reading.
- Record the observations into the monitor's memory or get it printed on a paper and repeat the steps several times, with a five minute interval between them until you get a stable reading.