Home monitoring of blood pressure is a practice that has become popular over time among high blood pressure patients and people who want to monitor their overall health generally. This means home blood pressure monitoring can be either recommended by a doctor or done on your own initiative. Monitoring blood pressure involves two basic steps: taking measurements and recording readings. Blood pressure monitoring is done using a blood pressure measurement device to record readings, and measurements of blood pressure levels, and requires a blood pressure log sheet to record this information. A blood pressure log tracker records vital information needed for medical assessment of a person’s blood pressure levels.
Significance of Self-monitoring Blood Pressure Levels
There are many ways in which self-monitoring of blood pressure and recording its readings in the blood pressure log sheet can benefit you, especially for hypertension (high blood pressure) patients. Some of the benefits of self-monitoring are that it helps in the early diagnosis of hypertension and other blood pressure-related conditions. It is also used as part of a patient’s treatment due to its convenience.
Patients can determine if the medication and doctor’s recommendations are effective without visiting the doctor’s office. Instilling a sense of responsibility for your health and lowering healthcare costs are two additional benefits of self-monitoring blood pressure.
Lastly, blood pressure self-monitoring at home helps obtain accurate blood pressure readings, unlike in a doctor’s office, where blood pressure may rise sharply during measurement due to anxiety and stress. You can measure your blood pressure in a comfortable and more relaxed environment at home.
Types of Home Monitors
There are multiple types of home monitors available in the market. However, it is recommended that you consult your doctor to determine which type is best suited for your use. Home monitors are generally automatic (electronic). The American Heart Association recommends using one that measures at the upper part of the arm due to their high levels of accuracy compared to their counterparts.
Features to consider while selecting a monitor
Several features are similar among home monitors, regardless of the type. However, some features are unique to each type. These various features represent a specific benefit of a particular device.
Before deciding about purchasing a home monitor to use, the following features are important to consider:
- Cuff size: Confirm that the cuff size fits your arm, as the monitors are designed for different arm sizes. Also, ensure the inner side of the cuff is inflatable and sufficiently squeezes your arm. Lastly, confirm the cuff has a strap on the upper side to tie the cuff to your arm.
- Display of numbers: Always confirm that the monitor can display the readings properly. In addition, the monitor should indicate the type of reading being displayed, leaving no chance for misinterpretation.
- Cost: Cost is another factor to consider when buying a home blood pressure monitor. Check with your healthcare insurance provider to see if they cover the cost of home blood pressure monitors; otherwise, you will have to pay for them yourself.
- Device accuracy: Accuracy is a significant contributor to whether a home monitor will be beneficial or not. Consult your doctor and ask them to validate its accuracy. A good home blood pressure monitor should give accurate readings consistently. It is advisable to validate once a year.
What are Blood Pressure Log Sheets?
A blood pressure log sheet is a fillable document used to record blood pressure monitoring details such as the date of measurement, systolic pressure, diastolic pressure, heart rate (pulse), weight, and any other additional information. The blood pressure log sheet can be electronic or physical. For keeping records and sharing them with your doctor, electronic log sheets are more practical.
How to Keep Blood Pressure Log Sheet?
A blood pressure log sheet can be made more effective by implementing specific measures both during and after measurement.
Below are tips to consider when self-monitoring blood pressure at home:
Use a high-quality BP monitor
Always aim to use the most efficient blood pressure monitor you can afford. There will always be a variety of blood pressure monitors to choose from. Try to buy the one with the highest accuracy. Doctors can help you choose a home monitor of high quality.
Select standard times for measurement
Try to measure your blood pressure at the recommended times during the day. These can be determined through consultation with the doctor. Recommended measurement times are in the morning before taking any medications or food, in the afternoon, and in the evening after a short rest.
Keep a standardized log sheet
It is recommended to use standard blood pressure log sheets which include the date and time at which the measurement is taken, blood pressure readings, and notes for each measurement. This information will usually be sufficient for your doctor to make a diagnosis.
The notes section on the blood pressure log sheet records special or additional information, like medication or other such factors that affect blood pressure readings. Additional information helps the doctor to make an objective and educated diagnosis.
Take readings in a quiet place
Always take measurements in a quiet environment. Noise, temperature, or movements can affect your blood pressure readings and the process of taking the measurements. Taking measurements in a quiet place ensures that you are not distracted and get accurate readings.
Record the readings immediately
Record your readings on your blood pressure log sheet immediately after measuring them. Do not memorize the readings to take notes later. This can compromise the accuracy of your readings. Any uncertain readings should be retaken.
Show the log sheet to your doctor
Ensuring the blood pressure log sheet is useful means having your physician review the log and interpret the readings. This can be done if significant changes in your readings have been noticed or when you go for your routine check-up.
Use blood pressure log sheet templates
A standardized blood pressure log sheet is recommended to maintain uniformity of information in all readings. Blood pressure log sheet templates, like the ones provided on this website, ensure you record consistently uniform readings to help your doctor easily interpret and make a conclusive diagnosis. The templates are quick to download, easy to edit, and save time for the users when recording blood pressure.
What Does a Blood Pressure Reading Look Like?
The measurement and interpretation of the readings from a home blood pressure monitor will ordinarily require some guidance from the doctor.
However, anyone self-monitoring their blood pressure should be aware of the following points:
Numbers on the monitor
Every blood pressure monitor uses numbers to calibrate blood pressure. The numbers represent different elements needed to measure blood pressure accurately.
These numbers include:
- Systolic blood pressure: The first digit on display is considered systolic blood pressure. It measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. It will be the top number in the reading.
- Diastolic blood pressure: The lower number is the diastolic blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure in your arteries when it relaxes in between beats.
Blood pressure chart
The units of blood pressure are millimeters of mercury (mmHg). These are the units in which systolic and diastolic blood pressures are measured on the blood pressure monitor.
If the systolic blood pressure reading is 140 and the diastolic reading is 70, the reading would be written as 140/70 mmHg.
The readings should then be compared to a blood pressure chart to determine the diagnosis and treatment required.
Below is a blood pressure chart sample
Interpreting the blood pressure chart is necessary to determine what the readings mean. The blood pressure chart will typically have four categories: low, normal blood pressure, pre-high blood pressure, and high blood pressure. The systolic blood pressure is written on the y-axis, while the diastolic is on the x-axis. Where the two readings intersect represents your blood pressure at the time of measurement. These categories of blood pressure are defined as follows:
- A reading of 140/90 mmHg indicates the probability of high blood pressure. Any values above that indicate high blood pressure.
- Pre-high blood pressure is defined with readings ranging between 120/80 mmHg and 140/90 mm Hg.
- Intersections give ideal blood pressure with systolic and diastolic readings ranging from 90/60 mmHg to 120/80 mmHg.
- Low blood pressure is signified by readings of 90/60 mmHg and below.
Do’s and Don’ts
Monitoring blood pressure and keeping a blood pressure log sheet at home requires high levels of attentiveness if you want accurate and helpful readings.
Things to do
Below are various do’s for anybody monitoring their blood pressure at home:
- Ensure you are familiar with using the monitor: The first step of the entire monitoring process is learning how to use the home blood pressure monitor correctly. You cannot use it if you do not know how to operate it. Read the manual that comes with the packaging, and also ask your doctor to assist you with it.
- Measure twice a day: Measure blood pressure at least twice a day, morning and evening, for accurate and helpful readings. However, you can measure it up to three times, depending on your preference. Take two to three readings for each measurement, and then use their average value.
- Sit quietly while measuring: Before and during blood pressure readings, stay still and avoid any distractions. Ensure that you are comfortable before wearing the cuff. Avoid crossing your legs, and ensure the chair supports your back.
- The arms must be properly placed: The same arm should be used for all measurements. Also, rest the arm on a flat surface, such as a chair’s arm, desk, or table.
- Repeat the reading: When taking intermediate readings, take at least a three-minute break in between. Additionally, make sure to calibrate the monitor for accurate readings, and if the readings are not right, note them before the measurement.
- Do not measure right after exercise: Never measure your blood pressure immediately after exercising or engaging in any rigorous activity. This is because your heart will usually have a higher rate, which would result in incorrect figures that would be misleading for you and your doctor.
- Avoid eating anything 30 minutes before the measurement is taken: You should not eat or drink anything thirty minutes before taking your blood pressure reading. Meals and drinks can slightly interfere with blood pressure, resulting in inaccurate readings.
- Do not place the cuff over the clothing: The cuff should always be used on your bare skin and not over your clothes. Wear a short-sleeved shirt for the measurement. If it is a loose-fitting long sleeve, you can fold it to expose the arm. However, be cautious not to fold it too tightly around your arm. This can restrict blood flow and consequently affect the readings.
- Do not interpret the log yourself: Always consult your doctor before making any conclusive interpretations. Sometimes changes in blood pressure levels may indicate health problems unrelated to the heart.
Tip: Before starting self-monitoring, it is best to consult your doctor to guide you on how often you need to take measurements, regardless of whether your blood pressure is under control. Blood pressure is typically measured less frequently for people with controlled blood pressure than for those with problematic readings.
Blood pressure patients will often be asked to measure their blood pressure two weeks after treatment or a week before their next appointment. Note that home monitoring of blood pressure is not a substitute for visits to the doctor but rather a supportive procedure to help the doctor with diagnoses.
A blood pressure log records a person’s blood pressure levels at different intervals. It typically records the date, time, blood pressure, heart rate, and other related information. Before you start self-monitoring, your doctor should advise you on a suitable blood pressure monitor, how to use it, and when to take measurements. Readings from a blood pressure monitor should be recorded on the blood pressure log sheet. They should then be interpreted using a blood pressure chart before being taken to the doctor for a more detailed analysis.