Many of the difficulties of cardiac patients including falls can be linked to hypertension and its complications. Home blood pressure monitor can help to log the drops in blood pressure with sudden standing (a frequent condition of dizziness in elders).
Automated monitors also help to follow-up on blood pressure after a change in prescription, which can help the cardiologist and families to decide the best medication dosing for a hypertensive person.
In this post, I’ll give some tips on choosing and using a home BP monitor.
And you do not have to worry: I won’t tell that you have to plan on monitoring your pressures every single day for the rest of your lives. Although there are times when it’s an excellent choice to check regularly — like the week following a change in prescription — the most crucial thing is to have a reliable BP monitor at home and know how to use it occasionally.
Tips for choosing a home blood pressure monitor
Here are some guidelines to consider when buying a BP monitor:
1. Get an automated home blood pressure monitor. Although hand-operated equipment is available in the market, these require training to use properly. A good quality digital monitor will normally be more reliable and easier to work with over time.
2. It is a good idea to choose a monitor with a cuff that measures at the upper arm. If the body position is not correct, wrist and finger cuffs usually give incorrect readings.
3. Select a BP monitor that has excellent reviews from Consumer Reports or another reputable non-profit organization.
4. Customer ratings at Amazon dot com and other prominent online stores can also be of some value.
5. Plan to carry the BP monitor to the doctor’s room, so that staff can relate its reading to their own clinic monitor. This is a good way to check the cuff’s precision.
6. Is the arm cuff properly-sized? It’s absolutely necessary to have a cuff that is the right size of the person’s arm. Cuffs are usually available in three sizes small, standard, and large.
7. A small cuff usually gives readings that are falsely high, while a cuff that is too big will give readings that are lower than normal.
According to the Mayo Clinic USA: “The inflatable part of the blood pressure cuff should cover about 80% of the circumference of the upper arm. The cuff should cover two-thirds of the length from your elbow to your shoulder.”
To buy a cuff, start by measuring the person’s arm around the bicep area, using a cloth measuring tape.
From 7-9 inches –> small cuff
From 9-13 inches –> standard cuff
From 13-17 inches –> large cuff
more than 17 inches –> ask the physician for help locating an extra-large cuff, or even a “thigh cuff”.
Is it simple to log the readings and share with the doctor?
You will get an extra help from a home BP monitor and it’s easy to record the readings and share the information with nurses and physicians when necessary.
Most digital BP monitors store a certain number of readings in the monitor; some can even store readings for two separate patients. However, readings stored within the equipment can be hard to share with the physician, so attendants usually record the blood pressure readings on the paper.
Some BP monitors can even connect to your personal computer so that the readings can be transferred for future use. A few BP monitors can connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone, which is very helpful.
You can Google “Bluetooth blood pressure monitor” and pick a one that has good user reviews. Monitors available in the market can connect to iPhone/ iPad, Android phones, and personal computers.
Can doctor recommend a home BP monitor?
Although many doctors aren’t willing to recommend a specific kind of home BP monitor, some primary care hospitals are starting to recommend self BP monitoring. See if your healthcare team can suggest a specific home device that they are used to working with.