Have you been diagnosed with hypertension and uneasy about whether your medication is working right? Well, you might consider monitoring your high blood pressure at home. Research has shown monitoring blood pressure at home can be helpful as an addition to the regular monitoring in a healthcare provider's office. Indeed, many doctors recommend you monitor your blood pressure at home if:
You have been diagnosed with pre-hypertension (systolic --- top --- number between 120 and 139 mm Hg OR diastolic --- bottom --- number between 80 and 89 mm Hg)
You have been diagnosed with hypertension (systolic 140 mm Hg or above OR diastolic 90 mm Hg or above)
You have risk factors for HBP (High Blood Pressure)
Heres the American Heart Associations statement on home monitoring:
The American Heart Association recommends home monitoring for all people with high blood pressure to help the healthcare provider determine whether treatments are working. Home monitoring is not a substitute for regular visits to your physician. If you have been prescribed medication to lower your blood pressure, don't stop taking your medication without consulting your doctor, even if your blood pressure readings are in the normal range during home monitoring.
WHY IS HOME MONITORING IMPORTANT?
One measurement taken at the doctor's office is like a snapshot. It tells what your blood pressure is at that moment. Since there are no symptoms for HBP and no way to sense fluctuations in blood pressure, measuring, is the only way to get the facts. Readings can vary throughout the day and can be temporarily influenced by factors such as emotions, diet and medication. A record of readings taken over time can provide you and your healthcare provider a clearer picture of your blood pressure. Also, our blood pressure often spikes at a doctors nervous because of anxiety. Keeping a chart can eliminate false readings. Surprisingly, some individuals have normal readings in a professional's office but elevated readings outside the office. This condition is often referred to as "reverse white-coat hypertension" or "masked hypertension." Such false readings can lead to over-diagnosis or misdiagnosis of HBP. Self-measurement at home is good to reveal whether your blood pressure reading in the doctor's office is correct.Home monitoring may be especially useful for:Patients starting HBP treatment to determine its effectivenessPatients requiring closer monitoring than intermittent office visits provide, especially individuals with coronary heart disease, diabetes and/or kidney disease
People who have some high readings at the doctor's office, to rule out white-coat hypertension and confirm true HBPElderly patients, because the white-coat effect increases progressively with agePeople suspected of having masked hypertensionCAUTION: If you have atrial fibrillation or other arrhythmias you may not be good candidate for home monitoring. Speak with your doctor.Before investing in a Home Monitoring machine speak with your doctor or pharmacist about the device that will work best for your situation.Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. She is the author of Ten Days to Detox: How to Look and Feel a Decade Younger.See what others have to say about this story or leave a comment of your own.