(Why) Do I Need a Blood Pressure Monitor?
If you know you have high blood pressure, or even think you might have, then getting your own blood pressure monitor can be useful for several reasons.
If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure at the doctor’s office then you should be concerned, but don’t jump to the conclusion that you have life-threatening hypertension.
Having a high blood pressure reading on one occasion does not mean you suffer from high levels all the time. Indeed, our blood pressure is extremely dynamic, changing constantly throughout the day (and night). All kinds of things can affect your blood pressure, moment by moment.
There’s also the issue of what’s considered to be ‘high’ blood pressure. The medical standard for what’s acceptable has itself changed over time. (You can read a little of my thoughts on all this here: false blood pressure readings.) All to say, it’s good to find out for yourself what’s really going on.
White Coat Syndrome
Having extraordinarily high blood pressure readings at a doctor’s office is quite common. So common they even have a name for it – “White Coat Syndrome”. Simply being in the doctor’s office can raise our blood pressure above our normal range.
The funny thing is that White Coat Syndrome can affect you even if you don’t consciously feel tense at the doctor’s. I always felt calm at the doctor’s but blood pressure readings would routinely be some 20 points higher there than at home. (You can read more about my experiences here: Blood pressure readings – separating fact from fiction.)
Benefits of having your own blood pressure monitor
The only way to get a true picture of your blood pressure condition is to get your own monitor and take readings from time to time. There are a number of benefits of getting your own monitor.
First, you’ll get to know what your blood pressure is outside of the doctor’s office. That’s the blood pressure that counts. If it’s still way to high you need to start treating it.
Secondly, having your own blood pressure monitor allows you to tell what is working for you to bring your blood pressure down. It allows you to experiment, choose the best methods, and stick with it till your blood pressure is where you want it.
Perhaps most importantly, having your own blood pressure puts you back in the driver’s seat. This is where you want to be if your are serious about getting your blood pressure down and restore your health.
For a wide selection check out:
amazon.co.uk/blood-pressure-monitors for the UK,
amazon.com/blood-pressure-monitors for the USA
By the way, Emma, who works in a pharmacy and seems to be ‘in the know’, says “don’t buy a wrist monitor – they’re not that accurate”. (The American Heart Assocation backs this up.)
How to use your blood pressure monitor
For tips on how to take the most accurate readings, see this article by the American Heart Foundation: Monitoring your blood pressure at home
Basically, sit straight and comfortably, don’t cross your legs, have your arm supported on a table or something so that your upper arm is at the level of your heart. Make sure the cuff is placed round your arm correctly (see your monitor’s instructions). Take a few readings a few minutes apart and take an average.
If you want to get a good idea of your general blood pressure, then do readings at the same times each day. However, if you’re wanting to see if your blood pressure is reacting to certain activities or foods or drinks, then you can take a reading shortly after doing/having those things.
Getting your own blood pressure is a vital first step getting a handle on your blood pressure! Take back control!
Lowering your blood pressure naturally
Now you’re armed (haha…) with your own blood pressure monitor, it’s time to start lowering your blood pressure. Think how much more enjoyable it will be to take those readings and watch the numbers go down.
It will take time though. The only quick way to lower your blood pressure is to force it down with blood pressure-lowering medications. These don’t actually treat whatever’s causing your high blood pressure though. So a more holistic and effective solution can be to reduce your blood pressure through ‘natural’ means. This doesn’t mean obscure herbal treatments (though there are some good ones), but just ordinary changes. Like adjusting some of the things you eat and drink. Being more active day-to-day. Making time to properly relax.
One of the best ways to relax is to breathe more slowly. Other than medications, breathing slowly is the quickest way to lower your blood pressure. You can test this with your blood pressure monitor. Do a reading beforehand. Then breathe slowly for a good fifteen minutes or so. Then take another reading.
I’ve created a set of guided slow breathing audio tracks (mp3s) which you can use to help you. (It can be hard to keep your breathing steady and slow without a bit of initial guidance.) You can listen to some samples here: Breathe-Slow samples
I’ve also put together a guide to lowering your blood pressure naturally, step-by-step. It includes other relaxation techniques as well as lots on all the things you can eat and drink to lower your blood pressure. And tips on being more active in your daily life. Exercise is vital to healthy blood pressure, but it doesn’t have to involve going to the gym!
Click here for more details: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide
By the way, the guide currently comes with the slow breathing audio tracks included. Everything you need to watch those numbers slowly but surely come down!