At-Home Blood Pressure Monitoring; from ‘Hold-Off’ to Habit.
By Liza Klassen | Last updated July 2021 | Reviewed by Dr. Kelly Clinning ND
Blood Pressure Monitoring | Lifestyle Interventions for Blood Pressure | Understanding your Blood Pressure Readings
Why getting comfortable with consistent blood pressure measurement is essential for your cardiovascular health.
Hypertension, also called high blood pressure, is the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Canada. It’s preventable because early intervention can reduce your risk of serious cardiovascular outcomes like heart attack and stroke. Unfortunately, in 2020, for the first time in decades, the rate of hypertension among Canadians increased1.
Leading hypertension expert, Dr. Raj Padwal, identifies regular measuring and monitoring of blood pressure as one of the key interventions for timely diagnosis and management of hypertension. Knowledge is power when it comes to healthy blood pressure! At-home blood pressure measurements are a convenient and effective way to stay on top of your cardiovascular health. However, many people avoid this important healthy habit due to the fear of ‘high numbers.’ This blog will help you move from fearing blood pressure monitoring to feeling empowered to take control of your health!
From Fear to Friend
Anxiety around blood pressure readings is very common, both in the doctor’s office (known as “white coat syndrome”) and when taking measurements at home. The most important thing to remember is that these numbers are not a reflection of success or failure. They are simply data points to help guide and inform treatment to achieve your goals!
Here are four simple tips for minimizing the anxiety associated with blood pressure monitoring:
- Create a routine. Our bodies love routine, and it’s one of the best ways to form healthy habits. Select a time that you can consistently dedicate 10 minutes to monitoring your blood pressure each day. With the repetition of an action, we slowly become desensitized to its emotional impact, meaning that the more often you take your blood pressure, the less stress and anxiety it will cause you. Consistency is also important because your blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day depending on various factors, including; time, caffeine intake, exercise, and stress. Minimizing these factors will help you get accurate and consistent readings!
- Choose a calm, peaceful and enjoyable environment. Find your favourite seat, look out the window at a calming view or take a few deep breaths before taking your blood pressure. Try to make the experience enjoyable and minimize the environmental stressors that are within your control!
- Remember, it’s an average. Getting one high reading is much less important than the average. The current recommendations for at-home blood pressure measurement are to average your blood pressure over a week. So if you get a higher reading than usual, breathe and remind yourself that you’re still on the right track. Use the PreCardix® blood pressure app to record and average your blood pressure readings.
- Celebrate the wins. You’re doing the hard work. Lifestyle modifications like exercise and dietary changes and consistency with natural or pharmaceutical interventions are challenging. When you see an improvement in your blood pressure, celebrate it. Share the win with a loved one, and take time to acknowledge all the amazing things you’re doing for your cardiovascular health.
Understanding your Numbers
While it can be discouraging to see a 2-5 mmHg decrease in your blood pressure, minor changes have a significant impact on preventing cardiovascular outcomes like heart attack and stroke! A recent study that looked at blood pressure in 348,854 participants over 48 different trials found that reducing blood pressure by just five mmHg leads to a:
- 14% reduction in heart failure2
- 13% reduction in stroke2
- 7% reduction in ischaemic heart disease2
- 5% reduction in mortality due to cardiovascular disease2
Understanding your numbers and getting to know your average blood pressure range will help both you and your health care provider create and maintain a treatment plan that is right for you!
How to Take At-Home Blood Pressure Measurements
Consistency is vital for blood pressure readings; that’s why at-home monitoring is just as important as in-office readings with your physician or pharmacist. Current guidelines recommend two back-to-back readings in the morning and evening for a week to get an accurate average. Dr. Padwal typically suggests people go through the process about once a month. While the frequency at which you measure your blood pressure is essential, so is how you measure it. Ensure that you are using a validated BP device and you record your readings. Remember, knowledge is power when it comes to cardiovascular health. Knowing and understanding your numbers helps you to make informed decisions.
For more expert advice on blood pressure health, and overall health and wellbeing, visit our growing library of articles at precardix.com/blog.
Always consult with your health care provider before making changes to your blood pressure management plan. PreCardix® does not treat, cure or prevent blood pressure related conditions. Measure and monitor blood pressure regularly. Know the signs of heart attack and stroke. Do not take PreCardix® if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have renal artery stenosis, history of angioneurotic edema or shellfish allergy.
- Leung, A., Williams, J., McAlister, F., Campbell, N., Padwal, R., & Tran, K. et al. (2020). Worsening Hypertension Awareness, Treatment, and Control Rates in Canadian Women Between 2007 and 2017. Canadian Journal Of Cardiology, 36(5), 732-739. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2020.02.092
- European Society of Cardiology. “Blood pressure-lowering is even more beneficial than previously thought.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 September 2020.