Knowing Your Numbers Could Save Your Life
CARP APPROVED PARTNER SPONSORED CONTENT
THE IMPORTANCE OF MONITORING BLOOD PRESSURE
Our lives involve a lot of numbers. Important numbers like bank balances, bills, birthdays, security codes, phone numbers, and doctors appointments. But do you know your average blood pressure? If your average is more than 135/85 you likely have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
Having hypertension significantly raises your risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event like heart attack or stroke, both of which usually don’t present any warning signs. This is why measuring your blood pressure is critical for monitoring your heart health.
BLOOD PRESSURE IS VARIABLE
Your blood pressure levels vary a lot over a 24 hour period and reflect the amount of physical and mental stress or anxiety you are dealing with at that moment. Your body responds by expanding and contracting blood vessels resulting in varying blood pressure. Your blood pressure is typically lowest while you sleep and most variable in the middle of the day.
DETERMINING YOUR “REAL” AVERAGE BLOOD PRESSURE
Self-monitoring is recognized as one of the most accurate ways to take blood pressure for a few reasons, primarily because people are usually more relaxed at home, but also because people tend to monitor more frequently at home in comparison to how often they visit their doctor. This results in readings that are more representative of the real state of their blood pressure.
To determine your “real average” blood pressure you should measure 4 times a day at set times, for 7 consecutive days.
Readings 1 and 2:
Take two readings (60 seconds apart) in the morning before breakfast but after you’ve emptied your bladder.
Readings 3 and 4:
Take two additional readings (60 seconds apart) in the evening, two hours after dinner and at least 30 minutes after any exercise, smoking or ingesting caffeine or alcohol.
How to take your blood pressure properly
It is very important follow proper technique when measuring your blood pressure, otherwise you risk affecting your readings. Make sure to relax for at least 5 minutes before taking the measurements.
- Do not move or speak during the reading
- Keep feet flat on the floor and legs uncrossed
- Keep back supported (use a chair with a back)
- Keep arm supported from underneath (tabletop or pillow)
- The cuff should be at heart level
Your real average blood pressure is based on the average of all the systolic (higher number) and diastolic (lower number) values, averaged separately, over the course of days 2 through 7 (day 1 is not used in the formula to account for user error when beginning a 7-day protocol).
This formula is the gold standard for home monitoring and is recommended by Hypertension Canada. BIOS Diagnostics makes home-use monitors with this protocol pre-programmed, that average the data for you automatically. Shop BIOS 7-day protocol blood pressure monitors here.
MORE ACCURATE THAN REGULAR DOCTOR’S OFFICE READINGS
Hypertension Canadian recommends that ‘routine’ or ‘casual’ manual blood pressure measurements should never be used to diagnose a patient, or follow their progress*.
Home blood pressure monitoring is often more accurate (because of frequency of readings) in diagnosing hypertension, and a better predictor of cardiovascular events and mortality compared to office measurements*. Other studies have shown that patients with hypertension who monitor at home are more compliant to their treatment plan and have better controlled blood pressure.
The ultimate goal of managing hypertension is avoiding a cardiovascular event. If the device has been validated and has the Hypertension Canada check mark on the packaging, it is as accurate as the digital machine in your physician’s office, and likely more accurate than the stethoscope and gauge method.
Home blood pressure monitoring is simple and inexpensive to do, and if done properly it might help save your life.
CARP members save 25% on BIOS blood pressure monitors and hundreds of home healthcare items.
*Sources available upon request