Home monitoring

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Answers to the most common questions about monitoring your blood pressure at home.

Home monitoring

What time should I take my blood pressure?

It is preferable to carry out home blood pressure readings at a variety of times throughout the day to obtain a representative picture of your blood pressure during your normal daily life. This will allow you to work out your average daytime blood pressure and this may be a better way of assessing your risk of future health problems than single casual readings.

Because there is some evidence that we are more likely to have a stroke or heart attack at the time that we first wake up, it is important to take some of your daytime readings on waking up.

It is worth remembering to take two or more readings on each occasion as the first recording may be artificially high because of the hustle and bustle of putting on the cuff and attaching the machine. Also when measuring blood pressure it is important to make sure that both your arm and the measuring cuff are in their correct positions.

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Is a wrist monitor OK to use?

An upper arm monitor will give you a more accurate reading and all of the research studies on blood pressure have been done with measurements from the upper arm. In spite of this, if you still want to use a wrist monitor, it is vital that you follow the instructions for use very carefully, as the cuff around the wrist needs to placed exactly at the level of the heart to give an accurate reading. Even then, a special computer chip has to change the reading because blood pressure is different at the wrist compared to the upper arm.

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What is a normal heart rate?

Before giving a number for a normal adult heart rate, it is worth pointing out that everyone’s heart rates rise and fall depending on what they are doing or have just done.

A normal resting heart rate (when you are sitting still) is somewhere between 60-90 bpm (beats per minute). Your heart rate will be higher if you have just had a drink of tea, coffee or cola, or been active. Your heart rate is usually lower after you have been resting and during sleep. Heart rates of 50-60 beats per minute at rest are not unusual in healthy people who exercise regularly.

Some high blood pressure medicines can lower your heart rate. It may be worth asking your doctor what effect your tablets could have on your pulse rate.

There is one other effect that can happen when you first start a new blood pressure medicine. As your blood pressure goes down, your heart rate goes up in an attempt to bring your blood pressure back to where it was. This is quite normal and is due to the natural way that your body reacts to falling blood pressure levels.

So, when you start a new medicine that lowers your blood pressure, your heart may beat faster for several days or weeks until your body accepts your new, lower blood pressure. After this time, your pulse rate will return to normal.

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