If your typical day goes kind of like this–you have a toddler having a 2 o’clock meltdown just as your other child is getting off the school bus, and you know that you have to give your oldest his first driving lesson later today, well, you may be tempted to check your blood pressure now and again. Even if that is not your exact scenario, there are plenty of reasons for working moms as well as stay-at-homes to want to check their blood pressure. You can take a deep breath and relax knowing that you can get an accurate reading from home blood pressure machines.
Some Times of Day are Worse than Others
Anyone can benefit from taking their blood pressure at home, but people who already have high blood pressure will especially benefit, according to WebMD. What’s great about being able to measure your blood pressure at home is that you can do it at various times of the day. This will help you to determine if you are more susceptible to high blood pressure during certain times, if your emotions are causing the numbers to spike, the effect of any medications and which activities, if any, may lower your numbers. Sometimes at-home monitoring can be more accurate than going to a doctor’s office because of something called “white coat hypertension,” which basically means that you don’t like going to the doctor.
When you are able to check your own blood pressure, you will gain that sense of control that can be sorely lacking in any busy mom’s life. Just knowing that you are taking charge of your health and that you will be able to do something about it, such as getting on medicine, eating better, exercising more or getting an occasional facial or massage, will motivate you to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Doctor Can Help You Pick One
You can choose between different types of blood pressure monitors, but first check with your doctor before buying any of them, recommends The Mayo Clinic. If you have an irregular heartbeat, for example, you may not get an accurate reading when you check your blood pressure at home. Also, your health care professional can direct you in selecting the best type of monitor for you.
Manual Versus Digital
The two types of blood pressure monitors available are manual or digital. The manual kinds come with a stethoscope, an arm cuff and a gauge. With these types, you would inflate the arm cuff by pumping a tube at the end, and then you listen through the stethoscope as the sounds of the blood flow through your artery. These devices are pretty inexpensive, costing around $20 to $40, as of 2009, according to FamilyDoctor.org. Digital devices have a cuff and a gauge and automatically record your blood pressure. Some come with an error message to show that you may not have been properly wearing the cuff. You can get digital monitors that you can wear on your arm, wrist or finger. The arm kinds are the most effective, but if you have a large upper arm, you can get a wrist device. Never buy the finger types because they are not accurate or recommended, according to The Mayo Clinic. Digital devices are usually more expensive than manual ones, costing around $30 to $100, as of 2009, according to FamilyDoctor.org.
How to Read Your Pressure
After you buy your monitor, take it to your doctor so that you will know exactly how to use it. Some general guidelines to get the perfect reading are to refrain from caffeine, alcohol or tobacco 30 minutes prior to taking your blood pressure. Don’t take it if you have to use the bathroom. (Do that first.) This may be difficult, but rest for three to five minutes while taking it with no talking. Get comfortable. Raise your left arm to the level of your heart and rest it on a table. Make sure the cuff fits properly. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower. High is 140/90 or higher. If your blood pressure is between those numbers, you have prehypertension, which is a risk stage for high blood pressure. You need to take several readings at different times of day before you determine if your numbers really are too high. If you suspect you have high blood pressure or prehypertension, see your doctor.