Holistic Health: Blood Pressure Monitoring and Log

It’s a great idea for anyone who has high blood pressure to monitor it every day at home.  Using an Omron Blood Pressure Monitor that you can purchase on the HolisticSeniors Shop is a good way to monitor your blood pressure.  I have used one since 2002 so that I would know my daily blood pressure measurement.  I replaced it in February 2013 with a new Omron BP742 when the one I purchased in 2002 finally came to the end of its usefulness.   When purchasing a blood pressure monitoring unit an important step is to ensure that the cuff on the device is a good fit for your arm.  The cuff that came with my Omron BP742 was too tight so I ordered a larger cuff after measuring my upper arm with a cloth measuring tape.  The cuff that came with the device fit up to a 13 inch arm circumference and my arm circumference was 14 inches.  This video shows you how to make sure that the cuff is the right size for your arm.

Monitoring your pressure at home is just as important as the doctor or nurse checking your blood pressure in the office.  For some people their blood pressure may be high while visiting their doctor’s office because of what is called “white coat hypertension” or “white coat syndrome.”  It’s believed that it is caused by anxiety when you are in the doctor’s office but not in other settings.  This is why it’s also important to monitor your blood pressure at home.  In fact, studies in Japan and France indicate that home blood pressure monitoring may be more accurate readings than when you’re in your doctor’s office.

One thing I do is log my measurements on a DAILY BLOOD PRESSURE LOG-FORM to track them over time.  I take the completed log form with me when I visit my doctor.  He can see exactly what has been happening between appointments and together we can make decisions about adjusting my medication.  You can use the log form that is linked here.  Download it to your computer, print it out and write in your measurements.  Recently I looked at a log from 2002 and 2003.  On November 5, 2002, my blood pressure was 180/100 and on February 6, 2003, it was 170/100.  They were consistently high during this time but I didn’t have the awareness about what these numbers meant at the time.  It’s only been through research that I educated myself about high blood pressure and what I can do naturally to help lower it.  I take three different types of medications at this time, but I’m looking forward to my doctor lowering these when I meet with him on July 3rd.

Over time I found tips about how to accurately take my blood pressure.  One tip is waiting at least 30 minutes to an hour after eating or exercising before monitoring my blood pressure gives more accurate readings.  I also wait at least an hour in the morning when I first wake up before I take my first reading.  Another tip is the importance of sitting in a relaxed position in a chair with both feet flat on the floor for at least five minutes before taking your blood pressure.  While taking the reading I don’t talk or move my body or arm.  I just sit quietly until the monitor completes the reading.  This video demonstrates how to place the cuff on your arm, where to place your forearm on the table with your hand facing up and a few other tips to ensure that you take an accurate reading.  After taking your reading, complete the log form so that you can track the history of your readings between doctor visits.   Be sure to print out and take the completed log form with you to your next doctor visit.

It’s important to follow some guidelines so that your measurements are accurate.  The American Heart Association (AHA) came out in 2005 with new Practice Guidelines for blood pressure measurement accuracy.  When I monitor my blood pressure at home, I follow a procedure of taking three readings spaced one minute apart and then record the average of the three readings.  The AHA recommends that you take two readings with one minute between and then average the two readings and use the average as your accurate reading.  The AHA recommends taking a third reading if the difference between the first two readings is more than 5 mm Hg.  The Omron BP742 actually calculates the average of the readings just by pressing a button for the figure to appear on the display.  Most of the new blood pressure monitors do the average calculations for you.  Before I purchased my new monitor, I calculated the averages myself.

When I see my doctor he always takes blood pressure readings in both arms.  I have found that I can only manage taking a reading in my left arm and I remind him of this.  Classifications of Hypertension have been revised too.  The following classifications are identified in the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure.

Normal:                           Systolic – 119 or lower           Diastolic – 79 or lower

Prehypertension:              Systolic – 120 to 139             Diastolic – 80 to 89

Stage 1 hypertension:      Systolic – 140 to 159             Diastolic – 90 to 99

Stage 2 hypertension:      Systolic – 160 or higher          Diastolic – 100 or higher

I will write another post on heart rate which is also measured on blood pressure monitoring units.  I track this on my log too since I take a beta blocker medication for lowering my blood pressure, which slows my heart rate.

Do you monitor your blood pressure at home?  If you do, do you log your readings on a form that you take when you visit your doctor?  Monitoring your blood pressure at home is one way to increase your awareness of your blood pressure since high or low blood pressure is silent and something you can’t feel.  When you monitor your blood pressure every day, you will know when you may have dangerously high or low pressure and need to go to ER like I did in February.  Because I knew how to monitor my blood pressure I was able to prevent a heart attack or stroke, went to the ER and received help.

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