Hypertension – 5 Reasons Why You Should Measure Your Blood Pressure At Home
As hypertension sufferers, we know from experience that the blood pressure (BP) readings taken at the doctor’s office can be unreliable, yet those readings are used to determine how our condition should be managed. The availability of inexpensive accurate and reliable monitors for home use has changed that. Here are five reasons why we should take our own measurements.
Why the readings taken in the doctor’s office are often unreliable:
Your doctor most likely will use a sphygmomanometer, which is very accurate but the reading may be misleading because:
Your BP readings vary throughout the day
You might feel nervous or tense
You might suffer from “white coat syndrome”
Your BP readings will also be elevated if you have just driven to the doctor’s office or had to rush to get to the appointment on time
Doctors are becoming increasingly aware of the limitations of the BP readings they take, particularly where they are to be used as the basis of managing our condition. Consequently, it is becoming more common for our doctor to recommend that we buy our own monitor and regularly measure our BP at home.
Five reasons why we should measure our own blood pressure:
# 1. To take responsibility for managing our condition: The doctor can advise us, recommend management strategies and prescribe medication. Hypertension is a condition whose treatment is greatly influenced by our individual lifestyle. This means that we have a responsibility to understand our condition and to adjust our lifestyle to bring it under control.
# 2. To provide reliable information: Regular BP measurements give a detailed picture of the trends of blood pressure behaviour over time. This information can be of great help to the doctor in determining what affects our blood pressure positively or negatively and helps in making more informed treatment decisions.
# 3. Reassurance: Hypertension is a serious condition, which if left unchecked can be fatal. Monitoring our own BP at home:
reassures us that all is well, or
enables us to take swift action if something is not right.
# 4. Motivation: Being able to set targets and see the results of lifestyle changes is a great motivator that:
can spur us on to make even greater efforts
and provides the willpower to maintain the effort
# 5. Fewer visits to the doctor’s office: How often have we made a visit to the doctor just to have our blood pressure measured? It is much more convenient to email to the doctor a set of BP measurements that were taken over a period of time. Those results give a much more accurate and detailed picture of our condition and allow the doctor to make an informed decision about the management of our condition. When we do visit the doctor, we will have more useful information to discuss.
If you are trying to lose weight, you will need a set of bathroom scales to weigh yourself regularly to measure progress and to keep you on track. It is the same with managing your hypertension. If you do not measure your blood pressure regularly, how can you know if it is under control?