American Heart Association
Many people have high blood pressure (HBP) for years without knowing it. Generally, there are no symptoms, but when elevated blood pressure goes untreated, it can damage arteries and vital organs throughout your body. That’s why it is often called the “silent killer,” because it can cause a stroke and possibly death.
People often make the mistake of assuming symptoms will alert them to their high blood pressure. However, HBP can only be diagnosed by using a device to measure your blood pressure. Not that long ago, this meant going to your doctor or a clinic and having a reading taken by a nurse or other healthcare professional. But today, there are accurate BP monitors at your local pharmacy and monitors you can buy to measure your blood pressure at home.
Choosing a Monitor
The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep (upper-arm) monitor. Ask your healthcare provider for advice in selecting and using one at home. Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because they yield less reliable readings.
Make sure it’s approved
Make sure the monitor has been tested, validated and approved by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, the British Hypertension Society and the International Protocol for the Validation of Automated BP Measuring Devices.
Make sure it’s appropriate
When selecting a blood pressure monitor for the elderly, pregnant women or children, make sure it is validated for these conditions.
Make sure the cuff fits
Children and adults with smaller or larger than average-sized arms may need special-sized cuffs. They are available in some pharmacies, from medical supply companies and by direct order from companies that sell BP cuffs. Measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct sized cuff.
Get it checked
When you get a new device, be sure to have it checked out by your healthcare provider to make sure the readings are accurate.
Keep a record
Managing your blood pressure can be easy thanks to the American Heart Association’s Heart360® online tracking program. This tool is easy to set up and will provide you with plenty of ideas for healthy living. Through Heart360, the American Heart Association will be with you every step of the way in your march toward reaching your blood pressure goal. Create an account at Heart 360 and record your BP readings online. This is private and confidential, but you can share it with your physician as a part of treatment. If the internet isn’t your thing, then write down your readings, note the blood pressure reading, the date and the time of day that you take the reading.
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