Monitoring blood pressure at home can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease, explains Linda Warren, Director of Cardiacare Ltd . . .
Health experts are keen to engage the general public in taking an interest in and understanding the importance of home blood pressure monitoring. High blood pressure is known as the silent killer and is impossible to detect unless regularly checked. Any problems detected can be addressed if discovered early, therefore limiting the threat of stroke and heart disease. This simple check could potentially save the NHS thousands of pounds per year, free up hospital beds and ensure more effective use of doctors’ time. Variations in blood pressure are not normally cause
for concern. The pressure in blood vessels changes according to a person’s lifestyle – for example stress at work, physical exertion, and changes in mood. However, if blood pressure constantly exceeds the limit value (>140/90mmHg) even when at rest, it becomes a risk. High blood pressure is one of the most common complaints in today’s society,
affecting one in seven adults. If left untreated, it may lead to kidney failure, and in the worst case, to a heart attack or stroke. You cannot know whether your blood pressure is normal or not.
Certainty is only possible with daily readings Blood pressure readings taken by doctors are merely snapshots.
Agitation and tension while at the doctor’s office may falsify measured values. To get high blood pressure under control it is important for patients to know about their readings. It is only by measuring blood pressure every day that they can familiarise themselves with their body and see how their lifestyle affects blood pressure levels. Such knowledge will help the patient to manage this disease.
The pressure in blood vessels changes according to a person’s lifestyle – for example stress at work, physical exertion, and changes in mood.
Does your pulse beat regularly?
The heart pumps blood through the body, supplying it with oxygen and nutrients. But circulation will only work properly if the heartbeat is regular. This is why it is important to constantly check this cardiovascular system via the pulse.
Possible causes for an irregular pulse
No cause for concern:
- A hot bath;
- Intake of stimulants;
- Loose cuff;
- Incorrect posture during measurement.
Cause for concern
■ Irregular heart beat (arrhythmia).
HEALTH TIPS ! – Tips on avoiding high blood pressure
- Keep an eye on your weight;
- Avoid stress;
- Only drink alcohol, tea and coffee in moderate amounts;
- Take regular exercise;
- Reduce salt intake.
- How to obtain accurate blood pressure readings
- Make sure that the cuff is fitted properly and is positioned level with the heart;
- Try and relax five minutes before measurement;
- Make sure you are in a comfortable position, but still sitting upright;
- Do not drink/eat anything or smoke for at least half an hour before measurement;
- Do not move unnecessarily during measurement and do not speak;
- Take a break of about four to five minutes between readings.
I would like to tell you of my own personal experience of high blood pressure. Having had regular checks at the doctors, my blood pressure was always OK. I am overweight but have been trying for years to address this. I have never smoked or taken drugs, with the exception of medication prescribed by my GP. My cholesterol is always good and I am not diabetic.
High blood pressure is one of the most common complaints in today’s society, affecting one in seven adults. If left untreated, it may lead to kidney failure, and in the worst case, to a heart attack or stroke.
Whilst on holiday in Australia a few years ago, I was on a train journey when I suddenly developed a nose bleed. I knew this was no ordinary nose bleed; it was more like a haemorrhage. The cabin crew were very good and called ahead for help and I was taken off the train at the next station and taken by ambulance to hospital, where I was kept in for a few hours and then told to take it easy for the next few days. Back in the UK all was fine for a couple of months and then the problem occurred again. After seeing a consultant he confirmed that I had high blood pressure and prescribed medication. He said that if I had not had the nose bleeds I would have had a stroke. Talking to friends after dinner one evening and telling them of my experience in Australia and the horrendous nose bleeds, I casually passed round my wrist blood pressure monitor, leading one male friend, very fit in his late 50s and a non-smoker, to discover he had very high blood pressure. I told him to go to the doctors asap, and after further tests he was diagnosed with the condition and prescribed blood pressure pills. From my own personal experience, I am certain that encouraging home monitoring and understanding of one’s own blood pressure will lead to a great reduction in potentially serious problems. In addition, this could assist the NHS a great deal in its mission to get individuals to take preventative steps for a healthier lifestyle.
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