CONDITIONS

Blood Pressure Monitoring

Blood Pressure Monitoring

In India, 1 in 4 adults have hypertension, but, only about 12% have their blood pressure under control.

Measuring blood pressure regularly helps in diagnosing health problems early and steps can be taken to avert any health crisis.

Why do we need to measure the blood pressure?

By measuring your blood pressure (BP), the doctor may assess if blood pressure is high. High BP poses a risk to the health and may lead to cardiovascular disorders.

Where can I get my blood pressure checked?

  • At the doctor’s office.
  • At a hospital
  • At home with blood pressure monitor that can be used by self.

How is blood pressure measured by the health care professionals?

  1. First, an inflatable cuff is wrapped around the arm by a doctor or nurse or health care professional. They then inflate the cuff, gently tightening it on the arm. The cuff with a gauge measures the blood pressure.
  2. The health care professional will slowly let air out while listening to the pulse with a stethoscope and watching the gauge.
  3. The entire process of BP measurement is quick and painless.
  4. The gauge uses a unit of measurement called millimeters of mercury (mmHg) for measuring pressure in the blood vessels.

How to use a home blood pressure monitor?

  • Self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) means using a personal blood pressure measurement device regularly and away from a doctor’s office or hospital—usually at home.
  • They are easy and safe to use.
  • Following things are important to do in process of home blood pressure monitoring –
    • Be still: Atleast five minutes of quiet rest before measurements is recommended. It is recommended to not smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within 30 minutes, before measuring blood pressure.
    • Sit correctly: Sit with a support and with back straight with feet flat on the floor and legs uncrossed. Support the arm on a flat surface, such as a table, with the upper arm at heart level. The bottom of the cuff (figure 1) should be placed directly above the bend of the elbow. The pictures in the BP monitoring device also show clear instructions or consult a doctor.
    • Measure at the same time every day: Readings should be taken at the same time each day – if it is morning or evening. It is advised to take the readings every day, for 2 weeks before and after a change in treatment and a week before your next appointment.
    • Take multiple readings and record the results: While measuring, it is preferred to take two readings one minute apart and record the results using a tracker. Some devices have built-in memory to store the readings that allows a person to take it to the doctor’s appointments.
    • Don’t take the measurement over clothes.

What should I do if my BP numbers are high?

    • A single high reading is not an immediate cause for alarm.
    • If a slightly high or moderately higher than normal reading is achieved, check the blood pressure a second time and write the results of the two measurements.
    • Consult the doctor to verify if it is health concern or if there might be issues with the BP monitoring device, as it happens sometimes.

If a person’s blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision or difficulty speaking, do not wait for the pressure to comes down on its own. Call the ambulance, as this is an emergency.

Who should use the Home Blood Pressure monitoring device?

  • Anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Individuals initiating high BP treatment – in that case to assess effectiveness of medication.
  • Individuals with risk factors for high blood pressure and/or conditions related to high BP.
  • Pregnant women experiencing pregnancy-induced hypertension and/or preeclampsia.
  • Evaluating potentially false readings, like:
    • People having high readings at the health care professional’s office (“white coat” hypertension).
    • People who only have high readings at home but not at the health care professional’s office (“masked” hypertension).

Why keep a blood pressure journal?

Taking a single blood pressure reading may not lead to conclusive decisions about a person’s health. For eg., if a person has hypertension, a single blood pressure reading is not enough to diagnose that person for it.

A record of readings taken over time provides a comprehensive picture of the blood pressure that helps the physician to ensure about the treatments

References

  1. India Hypertension Control Initiative, a high impact and low-cost solution. WHO. March 2024. https://www.who.int/india/news/detail/02-06-2022-india-hypertension-control-initiative–a-high-impact-and-low-cost-solution
  2. Monitoring Your Blood Pressure at Home. American Heart Association. March 2024. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings/monitoring-your-blood-pressure-at-home
  3. Measure Your Blood Pressure. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. March 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/measure.htm

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