How to Measure Your Blood Pressure

How to Measure Your Blood Pressure

Blood pressure measured in my office can be different from blood pressure people may have when they are at home or at work.  In order to figure out how much of a problem someone’s blood pressure is we frequently need them to monitor it on their own.  Below are some common situations where I recommend people check their blood pressure.

1)    If the diagnosis is unclear.  Patients sometimes blame an elevated blood pressure reading on “white coat syndrome” – in other words it is just up because they are in my office but it is really ok the rest of the time.  While sometimes this is true, I really hope that coming to see me isn’t the most stressful part of their life.  If their blood pressure is up when they see me,  I frequently wonder what it is when they get home at the end of a long day!

2)   Sometimes people have concerns like headaches – which can be related to blood pressure – or a number of other health issues.  If they have a headache and check their blood pressure we can see if these problems are related or not.

3) When someone has a diagnosis of hypertension – they can see how their blood pressure is between visits and how it is influenced by different things in their life like stress, smoking, weight loss/gain and also how their blood pressure is in between doctor visits .  Hypertension is a chronic health problem – and like all chronic health problems – people tend to do better when they are actively involved with their own care.  If someone monitors their blood pressure and is seeing that it isn’t where we want it to be then they can let me know and we can figure out what the next steps are instead of waiting for their next scheduled visit.

 

***Note *** This post, like all my other posts, is for general medical information only and is not to be taken as direct advice.  Please consult your personal physician for more information.

New Blood Pressure Guidelines

New Blood Pressure Guidelines

American Heart Association changes guidelines for diagnosing Hypertension

The guidelines for diagnosing someone with Hypertension – also known as High Blood Pressure – have changed several times over the years.  The American Heart Association changed these recommendations again this month with calling 130-139/80-89 Stage one  – instead of Pre-Hypertension.  (If you click on this link you will go to their page for ALOT more information)  With this they greatly increased the number of adults who would now be diagnosed with hypertension.  Happily they also recommended lifestyle interventions as the first manner of treatment for most people.  This typically includes losing weight, decreasing salt and caffeine and alcohol intake,  stopping smoking, and increasing exercise.  However, for people with known cardiovascular disease, diabetes or chronic kidney disease they recommend starting on medications as well as lifestyle changes – and getting rechecked every month until blood pressure is under control.

Getting rechecked is really important – it is not uncommon for it to take multiple adjustments to get someone’s blood pressure to goal. That is one major advantage of belonging to a direct primary care practice – you don’t have to worry about how to pay for these follow-up visits – as they are included in your monthly membership fee!

I recommend also getting a blood pressure cuff so that you can check your blood pressure on your own a few times a week during this month.  I recommend getting an Omron brand automated cuff that goes on your upper arm.  Please bring your cuff and your log in to your follow-up visit with me so we can compare your cuff with mine. If you have a HSA or a FSA account please let me know as you may be able to use that money for the cuff if I write you a prescription for a diagnosis of elevated blood pressure.

 

***Note *** This post, like all my other posts, is for general medical information only and is not to be taken as direct advice.  Please consult your personal physician for more information.

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