By: Marjorie Crabtree DNP (c) ANP-BC, FNP -BC
Do you worry about high blood pressure (HBP)? Are you concerned that you could have a heart attack or a stroke, and do you think about what you can do to make it better? Do you get nervous at your health care office and wonder if your blood pressure is elevated because you are there? These are common questions that concern those with hypertension or elevated blood pressure.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure is the “the silent killer” because HBP has no symptoms, so one is unaware that it’s causing damage to one’s heart, arteries, and other organs according to the American Heart Association. 33% of US adults over 20 years of age have hypertension.
Hypertension, can be helped with self management skills that include exercise, a low salt diet, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, weight reduction when needed, smoking cessation, and stress management. Hypertension is also managed with team health care visits and medications when needed.
Now, because of recent research, it has been found that patients too can monitor their own blood pressures at home with digital approved American Heart Association BP monitors to help their hypertension.
Home readings written down over time help your provider by giving them a picture of your blood pressure measurements. Anxiety at the doctor’s office can cause white coat hypertension and elevated BP readings while home readings may be normal.
The American Heart Association recommends home monitoring for all people with high blood pressure to help their healthcare provider determine whether treatments are working. It is not a substitute for regular visits to your doctor.
Who can be helped by monitoring their home BPs? People who have some high readings at the doctor’s office, those who have started treatment for hypertension, those who have diabetes, coronary heart disease and or kidney disease and elders may find home BP monitoring useful.
Monitoring BP at home with a digital monitor requires following simple instructions that include, making sure the upper arm cuff is approved by the AHA and that it fits properly. Do not smoke or drink caffeinated beverages or exercise 30 minutes s prior to your BP measure. Sit correctly with feet flat on floor, back supported in a chair, arm supported on flat surface with the upper arm at heart level for five minutes. Understand the readings. Optimal BP is less than 120/80. Take readings at same time of day. Record readings in a manual and bring it to your health care visits. Talk to your health care team about questions or concerns you have with the monitor and its results regularly, and your self management skills.
For more information about HBP and home blood pressure monitoring contact your health care team at your doctors office and visit the American Heart Association web site at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/About-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_002050_Article.jsp
Ms. Crabtree is a Nurse Practioner at Harbor Community Health Center-Hyannis. She has been with Harbor Health Services, Inc. since 2008.