Blood Pressure Monitors
It is common for physicians to ask their patients with high blood pressure to take readings at home. This type of monitoring for hypertension allows a loved one to be in a familiar setting and avoid unnecessary stress, yet ensure their medication is working as planned and be able to catch any issues before they escalate into a dangerous situation.
Blood pressure monitors are very accessible for public purchase, and without a prescription, so accessing one is easy for a caregiver. The tough part comes in ensuring a loved one is using it accurately, and finding a monitor they feel comfortable and competent handling independently.
Any monitor will have the same parts: an inflatable cuff or strap, a gauge for readings and sometimes a stethoscope.
The cuff is pretty self-explanatory, while the gauge can be either digital or aneroid. The modern digital ones provide a reading, while the older, and still commonly used, aneroid gauges have a dial that points to the blood pressure reading. A portion of blood pressure monitors on the market come with a stethoscope, which can be used to listen to the sounds blood makes as it flows through the artery. Generally, this will not be useful unless the caregiver and/or loved one is trained to decipher the additional information.
Manual monitors use a stethoscope and inflatable cuff, which is given air by pumping a bulb. They are less expensive than digital monitors, but very hard for single-person use, especially if the user has any hearing, visual or physical limitations. Luckily, digital devices are available today. Technology has given people the ability to monitor blood pressure through the simple touch of a button.
A person must still put a cuff on their arm, but it inflates automatically once a button is pushed. The blood pressure monitor again automatically reads heart rate and blood pressure, offering a numerical reading. If anything is not set up correctly, the device will show an error message, a simple prompt to try again. The cuff will deflate on its own too. These monitors can be bought for arm, wrist or finger use. Arm devices are most accurate, though a wrist one is helpful for those that have challenges using an arm monitor independently. One trick is to make sure a person's arm is positioned at their heart level when using a wrist monitor.
A caregiver can work with their loved one to determine which blood pressure monitor is the best fit for them. It's always recommended to consult the person's medical professional as well before monitoring blood pressure independently.
It's not possible for every person with blood pressure concerns to track at home, but caregivers can feel confident that this is one less trip they have to make into a doctor's office to keep track of a very important indicator of health status.
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