1.3 billion people suffer from hypertension, and it is the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes worldwide. As this condition becomes more common, it’s important that everyone knows what their blood pressure is.
In this guide, we look at how to check blood pressure, the benefits of measuring your blood pressure, what your readings mean, and tips for obtaining accurate results.
It is estimated that up to 50% of people with hypertension are unaware that they have it, since there are no physical symptoms for the vast majority of people with hypertension. So by checking it at home on a routine basis, you can detect the onset of the disease faster, and implement changes to treat it. People with known hypertension need to know what their blood pressure is as a first step to preventing the complications from hypertension. By knowing their blood pressure, they can work to keep it under control and can assess what may be increasing it. People with a family history of hypertension or who are at risk for developing hypertension, may also find it useful to measure their blood pressure regularly to detect rising blood pressure earlier.
According to a study by researchers in Minnesota, people who used home blood pressure monitors had more success getting their blood pressure under control than people who received regular care without home monitors. What’s more, these benefits continued for 6 months after the trial ended.
For many people, checking their blood pressure means visiting their local GP. But that isn’t always easy or possible for a number of reasons, including logistics, cost, illness, or inability to leave the house. That’s where a home blood pressure monitor comes in handy. Patients can use a home device and get a measurement straight away without having to go and visit a doctor.
If you visit your GP for a blood pressure reading, you have to travel to their office, wait for your appointment, and then have your blood pressure taken. This could be over an hour in waiting just for 1-2 readings only on one particular day. But if you have a BP monitor at home, you don’t have to take any extra time out of your day, and you can take the readings from the comfort of your home rather than in a stressful and unusual environment.
There are a number of blood pressure monitors on the market but the general idea behind how to use them is the same. Traditionally, blood pressure is measured using a device called a sphygmomanometer, which uses an inflatable arm cuff to measure systolic and diastolic pressures between heartbeats.
Nowadays, there are also more modern blood pressure monitors that can be worn on the wrist or finger. These smaller blood pressure monitors are becoming increasingly popular due to their ease of use, subtle appearance, and the ability to wear them round the clock.
If you are using the Aktiia blood pressure bracelet to measure your blood pressure, you will need to carry out an initial calibration to set it up correctly. It is also advisable to familiarise yourself with the manual to ensure you can fully understand the automatic readings throughout the day and take the appropriate action.
If you’re using a different wrist blood pressure monitor, consider the following steps:
Using a blood pressure monitoring cuff comes with slightly more considerations than a wearable blood pressure monitor.
Blood pressure readings are made up of two numbers:
Blood pressure is measured in units of millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and can look like this:
You would usually call this “120 over 80” with the 120 being the systolic pressure and the 80 being the diastolic pressure.
Here are a list of ranges to give you an idea of what your blood pressure reading means in real terms, according to the standards of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and European Society of Hypertension (ESH):
|Definition of Hypertension (mm Hg)||≥ 130/80||≥ 140/90|
|Normal Blood Pressure ranges (mm Hg)||Normal: < 120/80
|Optimal: < 120/80
High normal: 130-139/85-89
|Hypertension Stages (mm Hg)||Stage 1: 130-139/80-89
Stage 2: ≥ 140/90
|Grade 1: 140-159/90-99
Grade 2: 160-179/100-109
Grade 3: ≥ 180/110
|Age Specific Blood Pressure targets (mm Hg)||< 65 years: <130/80
≥ 65 years: <130/80
|< 65 years < 120-129/70-79
≥ 65 years < 130-139/70-79
If you are worried about your blood pressure measurements, you should consult your doctor who will advise on how best to manage your blood pressure day-to-day.
To ensure your blood pressure readings are accurate, consider the following advice when using a cuff or other non-automatic blood pressure monitor:
When using the Aktiia 24/7 Blood Pressure Monitor, measurements are taken automatically every hour. Just follow the instructions for use included with your product and go about your daily life.
There are plenty of benefits of monitoring your blood pressure at home, with various different devices available to help you do this. The traditional arm cuff will be familiar with many who suffer from hypertension, whilst blood pressure bracelets such as Aktiia offer comfort and the ability to effortlessly track your measurements throughout the day.