World Heart Day: Self-monitoring at home makes sense if you have diagnosed hypertension
Posted on September 21, 2017
World Heart Day is coming up shortly and the good news is that the risks of cardiovascular disease can be reduced by making just a few simple daily changes, like eating and drinking more healthily, getting more exercise and stopping smoking.
High blood pressure or hypertension is called the ‘silent killer’. High or raised blood pressure, also known as hypertension, may go unnoticed by us and rarely makes us feel unwell. It is a good idea to get your blood pressure reading taken by a professional, so you might find that your readings are consistently higher than it should be. Your GP or nurse may want to check your blood pressure more often as a result. The healthcare team will consider other factors – such as age and weight – when deciding whether you need medical treatment.
Your GP or nurse may also suggest taking blood pressure checks at home as a good way to find whether your blood pressure changes in different situations.
What is the best Blood Pressure Monitor to purchase?
Purchasing a Blood Pressure monitor is so much easier than it used to be and a digital or electronic monitor is probably the easiest to use at home. This will automatically inflate the cuff, making it a less complicated processes for you.
You may be asked to take reading(s) daily and asked to record these, so you may want to consider these considerations:
1. Which is better – upper-arm or wrist blood pressure monitors?
At Activ8rlives we prefer an upper-arm cuff rather than a wrist-cuff blood pressure monitors. Blood pressure monitors are extremely sensitive to body position, so you must take your reading while you are in the correct position as this can be very reliable for self-monitoring. So if you are unable to position a wrist-worn blood pressure monitor, they tend to be less accurate than those taken on your upper-arm. This is because the bones and tendons at your wrist interfere with and accurate reading, as the arteries are narrower than those in your upper-arm (1).
Do not attempt to use an upper-arm cuff designed for your upper-arm on your wrist, as it will not have been calibrated for use at the wrist and the reading will be inaccurate.
There is also an emerging class of devices on the market that bypass the traditional blood pressure monitor and use your smartphone instead by “listening” to your heartbeat when you place the phone near your heart. Studies have shown these apps are inaccurate and falsely reassured people with hypertension and we suggest you avoid these if you have diagnosed hypertension (2).
2. Adjustable monitors for different sized circumferences of upper-arms.
Some people find it difficult to have their blood pressure measured on the upper-arm because they have a very large arm or conversely, they may have very thin arms. Activ8rlives have come up with a solution to this, offering two sized upper-arm circumference monitors that are:
PINK for Small—Medium upper-arm circumference of 17 — 32 cm
BLUE for Medium—Larger upper-arm circumference of 25 — 48 cm
Make sure that you choose a monitor that has a cuff circumference that will fit around your upper-arm, with a little space to spare and so that you can insert 2 fingers under the cuff before it is inflated. But it needs to be quite firm and shouldn’t be able to be moved it up or down on the arm. If there is movement on the upper-arm you may not get an accurate blood pressure reading.
3. Digital Blood Pressure cuffs connected by a rubber tube for inflation vs Digital Monitor with integrated cuff?
There is little difference in the method by which the blood pressure is taken or the accuracy of these devices but the difference comes down to the price point. The integrated blood pressure monitors are simpler to operate and usually have just one button to operate them.
4. Readings recorded automatically or use pen and paper to record your readings?
In addition to accuracy, features to look for in a quality upper-arm monitor include the facility of memory storage of readings so that you can compare the trends over time. Even better is a blood pressure monitor connected wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet where you can view these readings in a graphical format, such as the Activ8rlives Blood Pressure2 Monitor, which connects wirelessly so that the readings are more easily understood. It also encourages engagement by the User in their own healthcare and encourages positive lifestyle behaviours changes, which are beneficial to people cardiovascular conditions and overall health.
Evidence has shown that home blood pressure monitoring is linked with the improvement of blood pressure control, self-care management and an increased adherence to treatments and medication (3).
5. Bluetooth wireless vs storage on the device.
Wireless connected blood pressure monitors are the latest in technology. They combine the convenience and ease-of-use, seamlessly connects, inflates and records your readings via an App that you download onto your Apple or Android Smartphone or Tablet.
The other advantage is that a record of your reading is kept on a secure server rather than your blood pressure monitor. This means you can access the information from any computer or device with internet access, making your blood pressure history something easily accessible in either routine check-ups or during an emergency.
The Activ8rlives Blood Pressure2 Monitor, records both your reading, inflates the cuff and captures this data via the Activ8rlives4 Health+Wellness App so that you can see the trending of your blood pressure during the course of: one day, 7-days, 30-day, 90-days, 365 -days or over years of recording. Information is automatically synchronised between all devices running the A84 App, the web portal and the secure Activ8rlives UK Cloud server, whenever the App is opened or even while it is running in the background on the Smart Device.
6. Nice-to-have elements may include:
- A choice of multiple cuff sizes is a bonus;
- the ability to store readings for multiple people using the same blood pressure monitor;
- view your blood pressure readings alongside other health data such as activity, weight change or medication;
- be able to send your data to a service like Apple’s Health;
- to be able to send your data securely to a carer, your doctor or family so they know how your blood pressure is at any time.
If in doubt about your blood pressure readings, contact 111 for advice or contact your GP healthcare team.
- Casiglia, E. et al. Poor Reliability of Wrist Blood Pressure Self-Measurement at Home: A Population-Based Study. Hypertension. 22/08/2016; HYPERTENSIONAHA.116.07961.
- Plante, T.B. et al. Validation of the Instant Blood Pressure Smartphone App. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(5):700-702.
- Band, R. et al. Home and Online Management and Evaluation of Blood Pressure (HOMEBP) digital intervention for self-management of uncontrolled, essential hypertension: a protocol for the randomised controlled HOME BP trial. BMJ Open 2016:6:e012684.
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