If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes, or a related condition, you might be asking yourself, “how do I check my blood pressure?” Your physician uses a device called a sphygmomanometer at the doctor’s office, but you can check your own blood pressure at home using a blood pressure monitor.
Determine how you want to take your blood pressure
Most modern blood pressure monitors are automatic, which means they are powered by batteries or AC adapters. They take the readings automatically when operated from the display.
Manual monitors, on the other hand, require you to hand-pump the cuff until you reach the desired inflation. This method provides significant opportunities for user error, so automatic models are recommended by most physicians.
You will also find that most modern blood pressure monitors are equipped with digital displays. The results appear on an LCD or LED screen just like a computer monitor or cell phone.
Some models are considered more accurate than others. Omron, for example, has an excellent reputation for accuracy and comfort, which means that its readings are more reliable when taken outside a physician’s office.
Different models offer different types of data to the user. These might include:
- Systolic pressure: The pressure created when your heart contracts.
- Diastolic pressure: The pressure created when the heart relaxes.
- Heart rate: Your pulse, or the number of heart beats per minute.
- Averaging: Some models average the previous three readings for more accuracy.
Although most home blood pressure monitors are designed with cuffs for the upper arm, there are also wrist cuffs available for home use. These are strapped around the wrist just like a watch, and are considered more portable and easier to use.
Teaching yourself how to use omron blood pressure monitor becomes easier once you understand how it works and why it is important. It might take time and practice to obtain consistent readings, but taking your own blood pressure is not difficult to master.
Learn how to use a blood pressure monitor
Read your blood pressure monitor’s user manual before you attempt to take your blood pressure. Certain models have specific requirements that you will need to follow to ensure accuracy. Once you feel comfortable with the device, follow these steps:
- Sit on a firm surface with your upper arm supported on a table at heart level.
- Activate the monitor’s inflation by pressing the appropriate button (models often feature “Start” and “Stop” buttons).
- Take 2-3 readings, each approximately one minute after the last.
Record your readings if your monitor doesn’t have a storage system built into it. Next time you visit your doctor, bring with you a list of all your readings as well as the date and time each was taken.
Experts recommend taking your blood pressure readings at least twice a day. Check it in the morning when you wake up (preferably before you eat breakfast or drink coffee), then again in the evenings. Avoid stimulants before you take your blood pressure, such as caffeine, as they can skew the results.
Understand how to read blood pressure results
To take full advantage of your blood pressure monitor, learn what the systolic and diastolic readings mean. The ideal blood pressure for men is:
- Systolic pressure of 120
- Diastolic pressure of 80
This is written as 120/80 (spoken as “one-twenty over eighty) and indicates a healthy blood pressure. Numbers higher than 140/90 indicate hypertension, which is also called high blood pressure.
Some models will automatically alert you when they detect high blood pressure. While you should still understand what the systolic and diastolic numbers mean, this can be a convenient way of managing your results.
Familiarize yourself with different types of hypertension
Now that you know how to check blood pressure, it is important to understand the different types of hypertension. Primary hypertension is the most common diagnosis, and is found in patients who have no other contributing factors.
Secondary hypertension, on the other hand, is often linked to a contributing disease or condition. Patients with diabetes or kidney failure, for example, are susceptible to hypertension.
Some patients suffer from a condition known as “white coat” or “office” hypertension. This means that their blood pressure is high during visits with a physician, but is normal when blood pressure is taken at home.
White coat hypertension usually results from anxiety. If you become stressed before and during a visit with your doctor, the anxiety might cause your blood pressure to temporarily increase.
Learning to take your blood pressure at home can help your physician better understand your hypertension. You might not need treatment if anxiety is the root of the problem.
Take steps to resolve high blood pressure
If you suffer from hypertension, lifestyle changes are often necessary to improve your readings. These might include:
- Taking medication prescribed by your physician
- Reducing sodium levels in your diet
- Getting more exercise (such as through walking or swimming)
- Eliminating sources of significant stress
Talk to your doctor about your hypertension, then invest in a blood pressure monitor so you can keep track of your progress at home.