Should I Take My Own Blood Pressure Readings?
Abnormal blood pressure is a chronic illness which, once developed, rarely disappears on its own. For most patients with high blood pressure, the treatment is lifelong use of medications as, if left untreated, it can lead to devastating complications. Thus today, most doctors recommend that patients also monitor their blood pressure at home.
In the past, patients usually noted the blood pressure on pieces of paper, which eventually got lost.
Today, with the availability of computers and other digital devices, tracking blood pressure has become a lot easier. In fact the latest blood pressure monitors also have the capability of not only measuring the blood pressure but of storing it on their mini computer drive. This data can then be transferred via wireless signal to the main computer and sent to the doctor.
There are also many androids and iPhones which can track the blood pressure. These devices can measure your blood pressure and automatically store the numbers, which can be recalled at any time. Even if you lose your device, you do not have to worry; the data is not lost as it is stored on a cloud platform.
Tracking blood pressure is vital because it allows you to see the trend. It is important to know if the blood pressure medications you are taking are working or not. If you do not have a smartphone, just write down your blood pressure on a computer and store it on a disc. Every time you go to a healthcare provider, take the Blood pressure recordings with you so that the doctor can determine if the numbers are within the normal range.
What Are The Advantages Of Monitoring My Own Blood Pressure Readings?
The best way to check your blood pressure is with the use of a blood pressure monitor. All individuals who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure should get into the habit of using a monitor at home on a regular basis.
The advantages of home monitoring include,
- Keeping tabs on your blood pressure readings. This could result in early detection if something abnormal starts to occur.
- Monitoring in a familiar environment, so anxiety or other activity will not create false readings.
- Making sure your medications are working. Without constant monitoring you’re relying on your doctor’s prescription being correct. Monitoring allows you to see the change before the next visit to your physician.
- Immediate feedback on the impact of any lifestyle changes you make. Diet and exercise are not everyone’s favorite things, but if you can see how it’s benefitting you, you’re more likely to maintain it.
- Reducing the cost of healthcare by decreasing the number of visits to your doctor.
Blood pressure monitors are available in most pharmacies and retail medical stores. However, you don’t have to go outside the home to buy one, they’re also available online at stores like Amazon.
Today, most blood pressure monitors are electronic so you do not have to manually pump the cuff. Current evidence shows that digital monitors that fit the upper arm are quite accurate. Devices that monitor your blood pressure from your finger are not accurate and are not recommended.
There are many types of blood pressure monitors available and you do not need a prescription to buy one.
Most monitors are very easy to use, but it’s vital that you know the right way to use yours. If you’re unsure, it’s likely that there is a YouTube video available showing you what to do, but better still, take your monitor to your healthcare provider’ s office and get the nurse or the doctor to show you how to use the device.
It’s essential that you get a blood pressure monitor with the right cuff size, because this makes a big difference in the readings.
A possible alternative to home monitors are the free blood pressure monitors available at many public places and pharmacies. However, you should not rely on these machines for regular monitoring because in many cases, the cuff size is wrong and the machines have not been calibrated.
Finally it is important to know that not all individuals are able to track their blood pressure at home. Individuals with an irregular heart rate or rhythm with not get an accurate reading and thus, it is important to get your blood pressure monitored by a healthcare professional.
Are Apps Available To Take Blood Pressure Readings?
Many hypertension sufferers find that using a cuff device to measure their blood pressure is too cumbersome for regular use. They have therefore looked for a more convenient solution which has been provided in the form of apps.
In recent years many apps have been developed to help measure blood pressure. Almost every week a new app is being released, ranging in price from free to just a few dollars.
Once you download the app onto your smartphone you just need to enter some basic data, such as your age, gender, weight and height, and you’re ready to start taking your blood pressure.
These devices do not use a cuff. You place the phone on your chest and then apply your finger on the camera. Within 45-60 seconds, the apps will give you a reading of your blood pressure and heart rate.
Almost all the currently available apps work in the same way.
As well as monitoring blood pressure, many apps also include a number of other health related functions such as calorie burners, glucose readings and mini workouts during which your heart rate is monitored.
The ASCVD Risk Estimator App also takes into account risk factors for heart disease. You will be asked to input your medical history like diabetes, smoking, obesity and family history and the app will give you a risk assessment profile.
Unfortunately, many of these apps have not been well tested and there is a great deal of variation in the blood pressure readings they produce.
If you plan to use an app to monitor your blood pressure, you should always use the conventional blood pressure monitor to first check your blood pressure. Then you should use the app. If the readings match then the app is okay to use. If it does not, then it is the app, which is most likely wrong.
How Accurate Are Blood Pressure Reading Apps?
Although there are a number of bp monitoring apps on the market, there are also a number of concerns regarding their accuracy. Several studies have shown that these apps give erroneous readings of blood pressure.
The FDA has warned consumers not to reply on apps to monitor their blood pressure because many cannot be relied upon to produce an accurate reading if the blood pressure is outside the normal range. The variations with apps are so significant that you may be misled into believing that you have normal blood pressure, when in fact you have high blood pressure.
Doctors state that there is no way to monitor blood pressure accurately by just using the pulse in the finger.
Most of these apps already have predetermined blood pressure measurement in memory based on weight and height. That is why these apps ask you for your measurements. With a cuff blood pressure device, there is no need to know the height and weight of the person.
This indicates that the app is not really measuring your real blood pressure, but is stating what the blood pressure of a person of a certain age, height and weight should be.
High blood pressure is a serious disorder and even though it initially has no symptoms, it can cause devastating complications.
All adults should regularly monitor their blood pressure. The gold standard to measure blood pressure with is still the conventional cuff device. If you do plan to use an app instead, make sure you regularly check it against a traditional monitor to ensure the readings are reliable.
If you have been diagnosed with blood pressure, keep a track of your readings and show them to your healthcare providers. While apps have their place, they are not a substitute for healthcare providers.