Monitoring Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of the artery. Your doctor may ask you to monitor your blood pressure and track changes so that he or she might monitor the effectiveness of the medicine you are using.
An upper arm BP monitor measures the pressure in your brachial artery. The blood pressure monitor will show two different pressure readings. The systolic pressure is the highest pressure in an artery when your heart is pumping blood to your body. The diastolic pressure is the lowest pressure in an artery when your heart is at rest.
Types of Monitors
An aneroid monitor has a dial gauge and is read by looking at a pointer. A patient inflates the cuff by hand. This monitor can easily be carried from place to place and costs less than a digital monitor. The aneroid monitor has some drawbacks, however, it is a complicated device and can easily be damaged and lose accuracy if not properly maintained. The rubber bulb for inflating the cuff can also be difficult to squeeze. For those with hearing loss, it isn't appropriate, since it requires that you listen to heart sounds through the stethoscope.
Digital monitors differ from aneroid due to their digital display and usually feature an automatic cuff. Entirely automated digital monitors are the most popular home blood pressure device. They are easy to use and a digital display is often easier to read than an aneroid monitor. A disadvantage, however, is that accuracy can be affected by moving the body or arm during the monitoring process. Automatic monitors are also more prone to misreporting accurate heart rates if you have an irregular heart rhythm.
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Choosing a Monitor
There are a number of manufactures of monitors in the United States. It is important that you find an accurate and affordable model for your budget. Speak with your physician or the PAMF heart failure program coordinator to pick the right model for you.
- Take your monitor into the doctor's office when you visit to check its accuracy against their equipment.
- Read the manufacturer's instructions for properly storing and caring for the monitor. If you feel something isn't right, then check it out!
- Ask your doctor or nurse to teach you how to use your blood pressure monitor correctly. The PAMF Heart Failure Program provides this instruction for patients.
- Proper use of a blood pressure monitor may help you and your doctor achieve good results in controlling your blood pressure.
There are new wrist monitors on the market but they are still fairly new and there are questions about their accuracy. Again, check with your health care provider and bring your monitor in to check it against a monitor in your doctor's office.
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