Keeping your blood pressure under control can lower your risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. If your blood pressure is high or is even slightly above normal, your doctor may recommend that you check your blood pressure at home. This may provide a more accurate reading than a single reading taken at a doctor’s office, especially since some people’s blood pressure increases due to being nervous when they go to the doctor.
Understanding Blood Pressure Readings
Before you start checking your blood pressure, it’s important to understand what the numbers you see on the monitor mean. The first number (the top number) is the systolic measurement, while the second (the bottom number) is the diastolic measurement. The systolic number refers to the force of your blood as it flows through your arteries. The diastolic number is a measurement of the pressure in your arteries when the heart rests between beats.
Here’s what the numbers mean:
How to Take Your Blood Pressure at Home
Fortunately, home blood pressure monitors make it easy to take your blood pressure. There are many types of blood pressure monitors available for this purpose. For the most accurate results, the American Heart Association® recommends using a cuff-style monitor rather than a wrist or finger monitor.
Follow these steps when you take your blood pressure with a cuff-style monitor:
These tips will help ensure you get the most accurate readings:
Don’t panic if your blood pressure is a little high on occasion. It’s perfectly normal for blood pressure to vary from day to day and even hour to hour. One elevated reading won’t necessarily mean your blood pressure is high. But if the readings are consistently elevated, you should let your doctor know. He or she may offer suggestions to help you lower your pressure naturally, such as reducing salt intake, following a healthy diet, exercising more often and losing weight. If your blood pressure remains high despite these lifestyle changes, it may be necessary to take prescription medication to lower it so you avoid serious health issues that can be caused by high blood pressure.
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