Health: Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home May Save Your Life

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The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) defines blood pressure as a measure of your heart’s force to pump blood around your body. It is determined by the amount of blood your heart can pump and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. Blood pressure can either be high or low. High blood pressure – also known as hypertension –  is a state where the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health crises. On the other hand, one is said to have low blood pressure if the readings of the blood pressure are lower than 90 mm Hg systolic or 60 mm Hg diastolic.

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg), consisting of two numbers systolic and diastolic. Systolic is the blood vessels’ pressure when your heart is beating, whereas diastolic is the pressure when the heart relaxes between the beats. The normal blood pressure of an individual is 120/80 or lower, and on the other hand, the high blood pressure of a person is 140/90 or higher. The upper number is systolic, and the diastolic is the lower number.

Why high blood pressure can be deadly

What makes high blood pressure so deadly is because it can strike unannounced. Ordinarily, as a hypertensive person, you may become a walking corpse because anything could happen at any time. That makes the sickness highly dangerous. Statistics have shown that nearly one-third of people who have high blood pressure hardly know about their risky health condition. Only a severe case of high blood pressure shows symptoms. To be on the safe side, it is highly recommended that you control your blood pressure regularly. This can be done by monitoring your blood pressure at home using one of the portable blood pressure monitors. Medically, hypertension tends to run in families, hence those whose parents have hypertension have a high risk of developing the condition. The possibility of having the disease is more pronounced if both parents are hypertensive. 

Symptoms of Extremely High Blood Pressure

Ordinarily, hypertension usually has no symptoms; that makes many affected individuals not to be aware of the health danger they face. That said, whenever you experience some of the symptoms below, then you can be sure your high blood pressure has reached an alarming stage, as such, you must seek medical attention immediately. The symptoms are, amongst others: 

  • Chest pain
  • Severe headaches
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Nosebleed
  • Fatigue
  • Blood in the urine
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Problems with vision
  • Pounding in the chest, neck, or ears

Other symptoms which are sometimes associated with the high blood pressure but may not always be the case are:

  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Facial flushing
  • Nervousness
  • Blood spots in eyes
  • Trouble sleeping

A risk factor for other diseases

Being hypertensive is not only deadly, but it also comes as a risk factor for other diseases such as:

  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart disease
  • Eye problems

 Checking your blood pressure at home

Nowadays, many people have opted to monitor their blood pressure at home. This choice is made possible due to the availability of blood pressure monitors. Instead of visiting their doctors or clinics, individuals have chosen to check their blood pressure in comfort in their homes. The American Society of Hypertension (ASH), American Heart Association and other medical experts strongly recommend that those with a high blood pressure monitor their blood pressure at home, using an automatic blood pressure monitor. Research indicates that people who check their blood pressure at home are more likely to reduce the risk of succumbing to high blood pressure-related sicknesses than those who do not. 

The blood pressure monitors are available at pharmacies, medical supply stores, and some websites at an affordable price. The digital monitor is simple to use; it has an error indicator and a gauge and stethoscope in one unit, giving them an added advantage over the manual one. 

The numbers displayed on it are easier to read. It is the best alternative for deaf and hard hearing patients because there is no proper reason to listen to your heartbeat via the stethoscope. The monitor has its limitations too. Although a wrist high blood pressure monitor can cost as low as $15, such an amount can be quite expensive for an average poor family, which survives on $2 per day. The monitor needs batteries, and the accuracy can be interfered with in case of body movements or an irregular heart rate. Some models can only work on the left arm, causing disadvantages to some patients.

Before purchasing your monitor, consult your doctor to acquire the appropriate and accurate one. Ensure you purchase one that goes around your upper arm since wrist or finger monitors do not produce accurate measurements. Forgo manual monitors because the user has to squeeze a bulb to inflate the cuff, which becomes a tricky task for arthritis patients.

Moreover, the cuff must fit your arm. Small and large cuffs can produce inaccurate readings.

Despite not producing accurate measurements, a wrist blood pressure monitor can be a good, cheaper alternative to the expensive arm option. Moreover, the wrist monitor is not difficult to administer. On the other hand, you will require proper training before monitoring a hand blood pressure monitor. Ensure you take the machine to your doctor and let him or her show you how to use it. 

There are simple guidelines that you need to follow before measuring your blood pressure. Measure your blood pressure two times daily as recommended by your doctor. Keep away from tobacco and caffeine, engage in physical exercise beforehand. Sit up straight with your back against the chair and legs not crossed. Avoid carrying out measurement immediately you woke up and place the cuff tightly on bare skin. Do not tie it on a sleeve; remove the clothing if you cannot slip your arm out of the sleeve.

Why should you check your blood pressure at home?

Monitoring your blood pressure at home comes with many benefits. Firstly, it reduces your health care costs, including the number of visits to your doctor. Secondly, early diagnosis prevents unexpected health challenges associated with high blood pressure; early diagnosis means early treatment. Thirdly, self-monitoring motivates you to take further steps to improve your health, such as embracing physical activities and improved diet. That means paying more attention to your health. Finally, it encourages track treatment by enabling you to determine a change in your lifestyle. That enables the doctor to adjust the treatment.

It is important to emphasise that monitoring your blood pressure at home should not stop you from visiting health facilities. Make it a habit to monitor your blood pressure. Do not wait till you have a severe case of high blood pressure, which can be deadly. In case you are experiencing an increase in blood pressure, contact your doctor for further direction. Sometimes, a little attention to your blood pressure can save your life.

Photo: https://www.heart.org/