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Why You Should Monitor Your Blood Pressure At Home

If you’re like old-me, you probably don’t take your blood pressure very often. Maybe once a year, if you even go in for a physical.

If you’re also like me, you probably don’t see a physician unless you’re so sick your spouse ends up dragging you in. Then, you might get a nurse to take your vitals. Hopefully, he/she measures your vitals properly so you get accurate measurements.

However, if you’re only going in when you’re ill, it’s very likely that the vitals they measured aren’t an accurate depiction of what your health profile is. In fact, the only vitals they’d have for your history will be of you deathly ill. So, your vitals will definitely not truly reflect how you feel on a daily basis.

People tend to use their body weight and their physique to gauge their physical health. If you look physically fit and muscular, then surely you’re healthy… Right?

Sure, using those as measurements for your health is a good start. After all, if you look physically fit, surely you’re exercising enough and maybe even eating well to get the results you’re looking for.

The only thing with that, however, is that you’re only taking one snapshot of your health profile. That means, you’re missing out on all other signs and symptoms that may not appear physically that your body may be telling you.

One of the most common cardiovascular diseases is hypertension. It’s silent, and extremely deadly. Most people have heard of hypertension either from friends, family, or even have it themselves. Despite how common it is, it is not normal to develop hypertension. Sure, as we age, our blood vessels may stiffen a bit. However if you exercise regularly and practice healthy habits, hypertension shouldn’t be a huge concern. It’s important to note that there are many healthy geriatric adults who do not have hypertension, despite their age.

The most common type of hypertension is essential hypertension, which is primarily caused by high sodium diets, lack of exercise, stress/ anxiety, and obesity. If your hypertension is unmanaged and becomes chronic, you are prone to developing visual problems, heart attacks, strokes, and kidney issues. These very serious and devastating diseases should be enough motivation to start monitoring your blood pressure regularly.

For those who don’t know what hypertension is, let’s first discuss the difference between normal blood pressure and hypertension.

A normal and healthy blood pressure (BP) means you’re measuring < 120 mmHg for your systolic BP (the top number) AND < 80 mmHg for your diastolic BP (the bottom number). Maintaining these numbers is crucial to ensuring you’re not over taxing your cardiovascular system on a chronic basis. Anything above 120mmHg/ 80mmHg puts you somewhere on the scale of hypertension. Anything higher than 180mmHg for your systolic BP (top) and/or higher than 120mmHg diastolic BP (bottom) puts you in a hypertensive crisis and you should seek medical intervention immediately.

It’s important to note that when taking your blood pressure, you should be monitoring it while properly positioned and while at rest. When you exercise and/or use valsava maneuvers, your blood pressure will sky rocket. That is not the time to be taking your blood pressure.

The reason why I am a big proponent of regularly monitoring your blood pressure at home is because your home is supposed to be where you relax. When you take your blood pressure at home, you’re able to measure it in a comfortable environment without the worry of white coat hypertension. White coat hypertension occurs when your blood pressure increases when a medical professional (in a white coat) takes your blood pressure. This tends to be due to stress and anxiety that people feel around healthcare providers. When you’re at home, you eliminate that possible suspect and you’re able to obtain a more accurate reading of your blood pressure.

Not only are you able to eliminate the stress or anxiety you may feel in a medical setting, you also do not have to worry about rushing to your appointment. This eliminates the potential of an elevated heart rate and blood pressure from running to your appointment. This is assuming you’re not doing the same thing at home, as well.

Lastly, one of the best reasons why you should take your blood pressure at home is that you can take it immediately upon waking up. When you first wake up, there really shouldn’t be any reasons why your blood pressure would be elevated. Unless you’re someone who wakes up and rushes out the door, morning time is generally the best time to take a blood pressure. You shouldn’t be stressed, you received a full night of sleep, and you haven’t had anything to eat or drink. If your blood pressure consistently reads above normal even in the mornings, there may be some underlying issues you may need to address with your medical team.

Monitoring your blood pressure regularly is crucial to ensuring there isn’t anything insidious going on with your heart. Catching things early will allow you to pivot to make the lifestyles changes you need to ensure your hypertension doesn’t become chronic.

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