If you have a problem with high blood pressure it’s a good idea to be able to measure it at home so that you can keep a daily record to take with you to the doctors office. Your blood pressure may change over the course of a day and he may ask you to take a reading at various times to monitor this. In addition some people experience what’s called ‘white coat syndrome’ where the stress of going to the doctor or hospital to have your blood pressure checked causes an increase which is really not indicative of the usual readings. Taking your blood pressure at home, when you are in a relaxed setting can help to eliminate this problem.
Types of blood pressure monitors
To measure your blood pressure at home you’ll need a monitor, either a digital or aneroid type. Aneroid monitors have a gauge with a moving needle, digital monitors have a digital readout and are becoming increasingly common. Aneroid monitors are the types usually seen in the hospital or doctor’s office. A cuff is placed around your arm and inflated, either automatically or by squeezing a rubber bulb.
Some advantages and disadvantages of digital blood pressure monitors
For home use a digital blood pressure monitor is preferred as it is easier to move around, has a stethoscope and guage built in and deflates automatically. Omron make a range including the Omron HEM-780 Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor which has automatic cuff inflation and has received some good reviews. Automatic inflation of the cuff makes these types of monitors much easier to use. You won’t have to use a stethoscope to listen to the sounds of the heart, which is an advantage for non-medical people and those with some hearing loss and you can be sure it will always be inflated correctly.
However, digital blood pressure monitors do have some problems. Irregular heart rate and some body movements can result in inaccurate readings. They are more expensive than aneroid monitors but overall easier for home use. It’s a good idea to take your monitor with you to the doctor’s office to check the accuracy.