High blood pressure (HBP) or hypertension is a silent killer and people having the condition should take care to conduct regular check-ups to avoid complications. However, visiting a hospital to check their blood pressure (BP) every time may not be convinient for many people.
The solution to this problem is the home blood pressure monitor. This will help HBP patients to conduct the check blood pressure at home. However, care should be taken to purchase machines which give accurate readings, for which the help of experts can be sought.
Many people’s BP rises when a doctor examines them. For them too, the machine would be a big relief.
There are several advantages for checking BP regularly at home. The main one is that medical assistance can be sought immediately when the BP shoots up. Another gain is that the patient who takes medicines for hypertension can confirm whether the drug is effective. Moreover, by seeking medical intervention without delay, the situation where other organs of the body are also affected can be avoided. By checking BP at home regularly, the patient can inform the doctor about the effect of drugs he or she is taking. This will help the doctor to prescribe a different dose, if needed.
Studies conducted in Kerala have shown that 30-40 per cent of the people above 40 years of age suffer from hypertension. The studies also say that 60 per cent of the people above the age of 60 years have HBP.
The causes of hypertension are several, hereditary factor being the main one. People whose family members have the condition may check their BP regularly. Diabetic patients and obese persons too have to check their BP every three or six months. Even normal individuals can carry out the test twice every year to confirm that they are healthy.
Precautions to be adopted
While checking BP on your own, the following things need to be remembered.
» Do not drink beverages like coffee or tea for at least 30 minutes before checking the BP
» Do not smoke
» Sit erect on a chair. Do not lean on the chair. Give support to the arm
» Experts suggest checking BP on both arms the first time you do it yourself. If you get a different reading on each arm, consider the higher reading as accurate and check that hand from then on
» The position of the hand is also crucial. The bladder which is part of the band tied to the arm should be placed parallel to the heart
» Never clench your wrist while checking BP. This will result in a higher reading of 3 to 4 mm
» Do not fix the cuff over clothes to check BP
» Keep both feet firm on the ground. If not, the reading will be higher, but footwear is not an issue
» While conducting the check, avoid speech
» At least five minutes’ total rest is needed before the check. Be calm and relaxed
» Never check BP immediately after a bath or a walk
» When you have a headache, fever or tension, the BP goes up
When to check BP
In case you have to check BP everyday, do it at a fixed time. Suppose you took the reading at 10 am, check at the same hour on all days.
It is better to take the reading after getting up in the morning. This will help in knowing whether BP shoots up during the early hours.
People taking medicine for hypertension can check before the next dose. For example, if a person has taken the medicine in the morning, he may check his BP 30 minutes before the next dose. This will confirm whether the BP is coming under control with that drug. Any change needed in intervals between taking the medicine can also be decided.
People getting a very high reading, of 200 and above, on the first day itself have to immediately seek the help of a doctor. Those obtaining a reading of 180-100 constantly also have to go to a hospital. However, if the level remains at 140-80, the person need not rush to a doctor. He or she can do that some days later.