Hello. This is Hypertension Prevention Tuesdays! Let’s talk about the blood pressure monitor. There are several different types of blood pressure monitors available today that can effectively measure a person’s blood pressure levels. If you have ever visited a hospital or doctors clinic you must already be familiar with such devices.
A blood pressure monitor (BP monitor), or sphygmomanometer, uses an inflatable air-bladder cuff and a listening device or pressure sensor to measure blood pressure in an artery. This monitoring can be performed by using either of two methods: a manually inflated cuff with a stethoscope for listening to arterial wall sounds (the auscultatory method), or a blood pressure monitor that contains a pressure sensor for sensing arterial wall vibrations (the oscillometric method).
Knowing your blood pressure can save your life. This is because you will have the opportunity to detect problems early. High blood pressure or very low blood pressure is fatal. If you have high blood pressure, this is called hypertension. This condition can cause conditions like strokes, and heart attacks, and many other diseases. It can also worsen diabetes!
Two Main Types of Automatic BP Monitors
The two main types of automatic blood pressure monitors are upper-arm and wrist models. The upper-arm model has a cuff that is placed on the upper arm; the cuff is connected by a tube to the monitor that rests on a surface near the arm. The wrist model is smaller and the entire unit wraps around the wrist—this is a much more space-critical design. Some upper-arm models require manual inflation of the cuff, but most upper-arm and all wrist models are fully automatic.
An arm monitor helps to give more accurate readings and so should be preferred over the finger or wrist types. It is also a good idea to use the home monitor to measure your blood pressure several times in a day. In certain instances, a doctor might even recommend that you wear an ambulatory blood pressure monitor which helps to closely monitor your blood pressure patterns throughout the day.
A good reason to use a wrist blood pressure monitor is that such a device helps in eliminating the problem of using an ill-fitting arm cuff, since the circumference of your wrist is not as much affected by your body weight, as is the case with the circumference of your upper arm. In fact, if a household has more than one person that requires getting their blood pressure measured, then the wrist monitor is a better option than the arm blood pressure monitor.
The home BP monitor works the same way as the ones that are used in hospitals or in medical clinics, but are a lot cheaper. There are lots of home BP monitors to choose from. Many cost less than $100. You don’t need a prescription to get one. You can find them at your local pharmacy, a discount store, a medical supply store, and online.
Many people buy their own BP monitors in order to measure their blood pressure at home. A home monitor lets you check your blood pressure on a regular basis. This can give your doctor a better idea of your true blood pressure. The best way to know for sure if you have high blood pressure is to measure it several times a day for a few months.
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I’m excited to talk about this topic today because not only do I truly believe that you have the power to reverse heart disease and lower high blood pressure to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of these chronic diseases so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
As you may already know, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve blood pressure and reverse heart disease. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools to Improve Heart Health
Blood Pressure Monitoring
Since weight management is very important in blood pressure control, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor.
Remember, healthy lifestyle behaviors–like eating a whole-foods plant-based diet that is low in sodium, being physically active, and stress management are the best ways to prevent and control high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use.
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PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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