Why should you monitor your blood pressure at home? Simple, because completing this simple, easy task every day can save your life. For most of us, our annual checkup at the doctor’s office begins the same way. The nurse first weighs us and records the results. Next, the nurse takes our blood pressure reading and temperature. All this information is gathered and made available to the doctor before he or she comes in to examine the patient.
Just as you don’t wait all year to find out how much you weigh, you should not accept ignorance of your blood pressure numbers until you see the doctor. If you have ever been told by the doctor that you have prehypertension or hypertension during your checkup, it is even more important that you monitor your blood pressure at home. If you have prehypertension, and you are not monitoring it at home, it could be escalating without your knowledge. You could be missing an invaluable opportunity to make basic changes that would prevent your blood pressure from climbing into a full-blown state of hypertension. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney diseases, complete incapacitation, and even death.
You should monitor even if your readings are within the normal range during your checkup blood pressure tends to increase as you grow older, so becoming acquainted with your numbers when you are young and healthy is important. If you come from a family that has high blood pressure, you are at added risk.
One of the biggest benefits of monitoring your own pressure is that you learn what types of things affect your readings. When you learn what’s normal for you, you are not at the mercy of a reading taken once a year at your doctor’s office. This is important because some people experience “white coat” hypertension, in which anxiety about visiting the doctor causes their pressure to rise during the exam. Others experience “masked” hypertension, in which their pressure actually drops during the visit with the doctor. Either way, this places you in danger of being misdiagnosed. Monitor your own pressure and record the results, so that you can help your doctor detect what’s abnormal for you.
If you take medication and see your pressure rise and stay elevated over a period, contact your doctor. Some drugs can raise your blood pressure. Antidepressants; cold medication; contraceptives; prescriptions that contain steroids, such as for asthma, and even some nasal decongestants can raise your blood pressure. Stay on top of your own care – monitor your blood pressure.