Four Simple Steps to Improve Home Blood Pressure Measurements

Casana knows firsthand how hard it can be to monitor blood pressure from home, especially with currently available home blood pressure monitoring solutions. Managing and monitoring your blood pressure on a regular cadence can be burdensome, but your doctor reviews that data to make healthcare decisions, right? Not always.

The American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and several other health organizations have released hypertension guidelines that recommend home blood pressure monitoring be a part of both the diagnosis and treatment phases of a hypertension care plan, however, providing quality blood pressure data to doctors is still a challenge. Blood pressure readings taken in suboptimal settings are often significantly different from one measurement to the next, making it challenging for physicians to confidently make healthcare decisions based on those measurements.

So what can you do to improve the quality of your cuff-based blood pressure readings? There are a few key steps every patient can take when using a blood pressure cuff to improve blood pressure measurements and comfort from home.

1. The right preparation

Though it may seem unnecessary, one of the most impactful things you can do to improve your blood pressure measurement is to sit for five minutes in a comfortable position with your legs and ankles uncrossed before measuring. In doing so, you are allowing your heart to return to a resting state, unaffected by physical stressors.

During the measurement, you should have your back supported against a chair to help you stay in the right position. It’s important to avoid thinking about stressful things and to refrain from talking while taking your blood pressure, as both can cause higher than normal readings.

2. The right cuff size

Blood pressure cuffs come in a variety of sizes. Having a properly fitting cuff is important; cuffs that fit poorly will not provide accurate blood pressure measurements, and if they are too tight they could cause bruising and pain.

The AMA provides general guidelines that can help you determine what cuff size would be best based on your arm size. For optimal results, consider asking your healthcare provider to help you determine what cuff size would work best for you.

3. The right position

When taking your blood pressure it is important that you always use the same arm and place your cuff in the correct position. The cuff should be one inch above the bend of your elbow and the tubing should fall over the front center of your arm, otherwise, the sensor may be misaligned.

It is best to take your blood pressure when seated at a table, desk, or in a position where you are able to keep your arm raised to the same level as your heart. Placing a pillow or cushion under your arm can help if you are struggling to keep your arm raised high enough.

Do not try to measure your blood pressure with the cuff wrapped over your clothes. All blood pressure cuffs should be placed on bare skin. If you find that the shirt you are wearing is tight around your arm when rolled up, you may need to slip your arm out of the sleeve, as the extra pressure can affect your blood pressure reading.

4. The right time

The two best times of day to take your blood pressure are in the morning—before eating or taking any medications—and in the evening. Common mistakes made by patients include:

  • Eating, smoking, and drinking caffeinated beverages beforehand. Both smoking and caffeine intake have been associated with a short, but dramatic increase in blood pressure, anywhere from five to ten millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Eating a meal will typically cause your blood pressure to fall immediately afterward, but foods high in sodium can cause a temporary increase instead.

  • Taking only one blood pressure reading. Most newer cuffs are equipped with the option to take two or three readings in one sitting. If your device does not automatically take extra readings, the guidance is to wait one to three minutes after your first reading, and then take another.

Tracking your blood pressure readings

If your blood pressure cuff does not automatically track your vitals, you should write them down so that they can be shared with your care team. Whether you use a pen and paper or make notes on a phone, make sure to capture both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, heart rate (if your device measures it), and the date and time of the recording.

Ask your doctor about the best way to share this information with them regularly. Some healthcare providers have an electronic health record (EHR) system that can be accessed and updated online at your convenience, while others suggest sharing your blood pressure readings during your next office visit.

The right alternative, right under your nose.

The Heart Seat™ is built to make measuring blood pressure and managing hypertension easier. The goal of the Heart Seat is to mitigate many of the challenges that burden patients and their providers with current home blood pressure solutions. At Casana, we believe that smart toilet seats are the key to unlocking a new wave of effortless home health monitoring. The Heart Seat is currently under development and will measure blood pressure, blood oxygenation, and heart rate upon market release.

Are you interested in trying the Heart Seat out for yourself? Casana is currently looking for participants to help bring the future of in-home healthcare to a reality. Sign up today for our In-home Cardiovascular Monitoring Study.

Disclaimer: All of the material provided above is for informational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Casana does not endorse any of the products or services mentioned in this post.

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