How Do I Use My Blood Pressure Machine?
It is estimated that close to 1 billion people worldwide are suffering from high blood pressure (hypertension) and, to put this into perspective, current figures indicate that about 1 out of every 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure.
Checking your blood pressure is a simple matter and it is a standard check that will be carried out by your doctor whenever you attend for a routine medical examination. Today, however, there is also an extensive range of relatively inexpensive blood pressure monitors available for home use so that you can now manage your own health with ease in the comfort of your own home.
[Note: you will often find a home blood pressure monitor referred to as a high blood pressure monitor, giving the impression that there are separate high blood pressure monitors and low blood pressure monitors. This is simply a matter of normal everyday language and all monitors will indicate both high and low blood pressure.]
A blood pressure monitors comes in one of two forms - an aneroid (manual) monitor and a digital monitor.
Modern aneroid monitors are the cheaper alternative (typically ranging in price from about $20 to $30) but can also be somewhat difficult to use, particularly for people who suffer from any form of difficulty in using their hands. They can also be somewhat difficult to read.
By contrast digital blood pressure monitors today are essentially automatic and are by far and away the best home blood pressure monitors.
Inflation of digital blood pressure monitors, which come in both arm and wrist models, can be either manual or automatic and deflation is invariably automatic. Units also have very clear readouts and many will keep a record of your readings over time by storing them in the unit's memory. Some will also print out your readings for you and yet others can be attached to a computer so that your readings can be downloaded and analyzed easily with a blood pressure analysis program which comes with the unit.
Digital blood pressure units are also particularly helpful for the hard of hearing as there is no need to listen to heart sounds through a stethoscope, as is the case with aneroid monitors. Also, if your eyesight is not too good, you can get models that will provide an audible indication of your blood pressure.
Some tips for using blood pressure monitors:
- Don't drink alcohol or caffeine or smoke for about 30 minutes before taking your blood pressure.
- Go to the bathroom before taking your blood pressure.
- Sit quietly for about 5 minutes.
- Sit at a table or desk and place your arm on the table or desk so that it is raised to the level of your heart.
- Wrap the blood pressure monitor cuff around your bare upper arm so that it fits snuggly. It should not however be too tight and you should be able to slip your fingertip under the edge of the cuff.
- Make sure that the bottom edge of the cuff is about 1" above the crease at your elbow.
- Switch the machine on.
- If your unit is semi-automatic you will then need to inflate the cuff using a rubber bulb. If the unit is automatic then it will normally inflate at the push of a button.
- Watch the display window which will indicate both your systolic and diastolic pressures. Write these down.
- Finally, push the button on the machine to deflate the cuff.