High blood pressure, also called hypertension is one of the chronic health conditions that affect around 1.3 billion people across the globe. If left untreated, hypertension can become a severe health problem and results in complications like angina, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, heart failure, stroke and even death. Thus, it is very vital to monitor blood pressure regularly at home to avert such adverse events.
Well, blood pressure can be checked either in a medical set-up with help of a device called a sphygmomanometer or at home using a digit blood pressure device.
Understanding Blood Pressure Values
Blood pressure is considered normal when the values are 120/80mm/Hg, where 120mm Hg is the systolic BP and 80mmHg is the diastolic BP. As per the American Heart Association, the different classifications of blood pressure include:
Low BP is also known as hypotension, it is the state where BP falls below 90/60mm Hg. This state requires prompt medical attention.
Elevated BP is when the systolic BP ranges from 120- 129 mm Hg and diastolic pressure is at or below 80 mm Hg.
Stage 1 hypertension, the systolic BP ranges from 130 to 139 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure range from 80-89 mm Hg.
Stage 2 hypertension, the systolic BP ranges from 140 mm Hg or even higher, while the diastolic pressure goes above 90 mm Hg.
Hypertensive crisis is a critical stage of hypertension where the systolic blood pressure goes above 180 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure exceeds 120 mm Hg. It requires immediate medical attention, as the person can suffer multiple organ failures.
Types Of Blood Pressure Monitors
Blood pressure can be determined with the help of two types of devices: manual and digital.
Manual Blood Pressure Machine
This device is called a manual sphygmomanometer and it is one of the most largely used blood pressure measuring tools in a medical setup. It comprises a cuff that is tied around the arm of the person, a gauge (reading scale) and an inflation bulb. This device is used chiefly by healthcare professionals as it needs a stethoscope to interpret the values.
Manual sphygmomanometers are available in two types:
Mercury Sphygmomanometer: This device is deemed the gold standard for determining blood pressure clinically. This device contains mercury in the reading scale.
Aneroid Sphygmomanometer: this device does not have mercury in the reading board, but has a round gauge for measuring the BP.
Digital Blood Pressure Machine
This device is also called a digital sphygmomanometer and the device is used mainly at home without any help. The process of measuring blood pressure at home, away from a hospital is called self-measured blood pressure monitoring (SMBP). It is safe and easy to use and contains a cuff and a monitory to check ambulatory blood pressure. Ambulatory monitoring includes checking the blood pressure at set times and a person must wear the cuff for 24 hours. Blood pressure can be evaluated accurately at home with the help of digital monitor, unless the person suffers from heart rhythm, problems like atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, etc.
Benefits Of Blood Pressure Machine
- Having a BP monitor machine at home can support measuring blood pressure regularly, which helps to avert sudden health risks such as heart failure and stroke
- Digital BP machines can check ambulatory BP 24 hours a day, this can help in diagnosing masked hypertension, thereby mitigating the risk of organ damage
- Digital blood pressure machines are compact, they can be carried anywhere while travelling
- Digital BP machines can be highly beneficial for elderly, bed-ridden and pregnant women who cannot visit a doctor regularly to get their blood pressure checked
- Additionally, health centres mostly trigger anxiety and may increase blood pressure for most people, which is known as white coat hypertension. While digital BP devices can help take the correct blood pressure for such persons
Things to Remember:
When measuring blood pressure at home keep in mind the below tips:
- Avoid having caffeine or smoking for 30 minutes before measuring your BP
- Do not exercise or even walk 30 minutes before BP checking
- It is best to empty the bladder before measuring BP
- Roll up the sleeve on your arm or remove any tight-sleeved dressing, place the cuff on the bare arm
- Do not talk while checking the blood pressure
- Rest in a chair near a table for 5 to 10 minutes, your arm should rest comfortably at heart level. Sit straight with your back against the chair, and legs uncrossed. Rest your forearm on the table with the palm of your hand facing up
- If blood pressure has to be checked again, wait for 5 minutes before measuring
How To Use Digital Monitor?
- Hold the bulb in your right hand preferably
- Switch on the power button, and display symbols appear for a short time, followed by zero. This shows that the monitor is ready
- Inflate the cuff by pressing the bulb with your right hand. If you have a device with automatic cuff inflation, then press the start button
- Watch the gauge and continue inflating the cuff until the gauge reads about 30 units (mm Hg) above normal systolic pressure.
- Sit peacefully and watch the monitor, BP reading will be displayed on the screen
- Wait for a long beep, this indicates that the reading is complete. Note down the pressures on the display screen
- The systolic pressure is measured, when the force of the blood against the artery walls as your heart beats, appears on the left. While the diastolic pressure is the blood pressure between heartbeats, on the right. Pulse rare is also displayed after this reading
- Let the cuff deflate
- If you did not get an appropriate reading, then do not inflate the cuff again right away. Wait for a minute before repeating the measurement. Start by rewrapping the cuff
- Record your blood pressure