Measuring your blood pressure and keeping a record of the measurements is important. It will show you and your doctor how much your blood pressure changes during the day. Your doctor can then use the measurements in a number of ways to help you control your BP and lower it if necessary.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is a way of determining the force of blood that is being pushed toward the walls of your arteries when your heart beats.
- Systolic is the pressure that occurs when your heart contracts. (top of reading)
- Diastolic is the pressure when your heart relaxes. (bottom of reading)
So if you are getting your blood pressure taken and the monitor reads 130 over 90 (130/90), your systolic is 130 and your diastolic is 90. Someone with high blood pressure (aka hypertension) essentially has a harder time pumping blood throughout their body because their arteries have become thinner and resist the force of blood. To make sure blood gets where it is supposed to go, your heart ratchets up the pressure. High blood pressure can result in heart attack and stroke so it’s a good idea to keep tabs on your blood pressure and check it regularly.
Blood pressure is determined by measuring the pressure changes in the arteries. The lower chamber on the left side of the heart (left ventrical) receives blood, contracts, and forces blood into the arteries to circulate throughout the body. The heart’s contraction phase is called systole. When measured the blood pumped into the system of arteries is called the systolic blood pressure. It is affected by the force of the heart’s pumping action, the resistance and elasticity of the arteries, blood volume, blood thickness, and the amount of other fluids in the cells.
After the lower left chamber of the heart contracts, it relaxes and refills. This relaxation phase is called diastole. During diastole, the pressure in the arteries falls. When measured, this pressure is called the diastolic blood pressure.
High Blood Pressure
Many people have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. If left untreated, this condition can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to have your BP checked often. According to recent estimates, one in four U.S. adults has high blood pressure, but because there are no symptoms, nearly one-third of these people don’t know they have it. This is why high blood pressure is often called the “silent killer.”
Get the facts on high blood pressure and how to live a more heart-healthy life. Find out how you can reduce your risks for heart attack and stroke with proper monitoring by a healthcare provider and simple lifestyle changes, even if you have high blood pressure.
Types of Blood Pressure Monitors
The FDA regulates blood pressure devices that are sold to the public. They require companies to show that new monitors are substantially equivalent to models already on the market. They also must demonstrate accuracy through a clinical validation study.
Manual devices can be used to measure your blood pressure but should be done by a medical professional. Manual monitors are usually less expensive than digital monitors, but can be difficult to use at home.
- Aneroid Blood Pressure Monitors are what you would typically see in a physicians office. Aneroid monitors or Sphygmomanometers use a stethoscope and an inflatable upper arm cuff (manual or auto) that is connected to a gauge with a dial. To take a reading your doctor would inflate the cuff and then listen to your blood as it flows through your artery as the pressure is released. As the pressure/air is released you’ll start to hear your heartbeat. This would be your systolic pressure. If you continue to deflate the cuff, you’ll hear your heartbeat stop again. This is your diastolic pressure.
Digital Monitors – Digital blood pressure monitors have either manual or automatic cuffs and come with a built in LCD screen that displays the reading. Some models allow for wrist or finger readings (although typically not as accurate). The digital blood pressure monitor is probably the easiest to use. Accuracy may be a concern if the individual is not able to hold the meter in a fixed position.
Features of Blood Pressure Monitors
Consider the features below if you are in the market for a BP monitor.
- Display Size – Is a standard or an oversized LCD read-out needed. Some users may need a larger display.
- Power Supply – Battery powered or AC adapter. If you travel the battery powered unit may be your best choice. Most units will come with both.
- Memory Features – Some models remember the last reading or multiple readings. There are also models that offer a PC link as well as the ability to upload data.
- Cuff Sizes – Large and small arm cuffs can be interchanged for most units. The size of the cuff on a blood pressure monitor is typically considered one of the most important criteria for achieving accurate results.
- Ease of Use – Depends on personal preference. People with certain disabilities may find one unit easier to use than another. Wrist blood pressure monitors have become easier to use than ever and offer accurate results if you have a steady hand.
- Accuracy – Readings on some wrist and finger units may not be as accurate as an arm unit depending on the individual. Upper arm readings have always been considered the most accurate. The accuracy of the monitor should be of the greatest concern. It is always a good idea to bring your home monitor along with you to the doctor to verify the readings.
- Length of Warranty – Warranties vary from one to five years. Check your unit regularly to make sure everything runs smoothly and accurately. Recalibration by the manufacturer is sometimes needed.
- Cost – Cost could be a factor that will sway your decision. Remember to do as much research as possible. The more expensive models may not always be as accurate as the cheaper ones. Check out our blood pressure monitor ratings and reviews area for some of the latest models.
Blood Pressure Monitor Manufacturers
Omron Healthcare, Inc., is the world’s leading manufacturer and distributor of blood pressure monitors for home use. Omron’s clinically proven accurate digital blood pressure monitors are the #1 brand of blood pressure monitors recommended by pharmacists in the U.S. By taking steps to monitor and manage one’s own blood pressure, a patient vastly improves the chances of greater long-term health and is able to provide his/her doctor with valuable information. Please see Omron’s Blood Pressure Monitors – Meters Page
A&D Medical Lifesource an ISO 9002-registered company with operations in Asia, Europe, Australia, Russia, and North and South America. Since 1977, A&D Medical has manufactured and distributed a full line of advanced electronic blood pressure monitoring equipment and health care products for home and professional use. Lifesource’s Blood Pressure Monitors – Meters Page