Home blood pressure monitoring
Home monitoring can assist your doctor in diagnosing your blood pressure correctly. Some people have higher blood pressure when they visit the doctor’s office. However, as they go about their usual daily activities they have normal blood pressure. This condition is called ‘white coat’ hypertension (referring to the white coat worn by the healthcare provider). On the other hand, some people have normal blood pressure when measured in the doctor’s office, but have high blood pressure in other situations. This is called ‘masked’ hypertension. Your doctor may ask you to monitor your blood pressure at home if needed.
What should your blood pressure be?
Blood pressure that is consistently more than 140/90 mm Hg when measured in the doctor’s office or 135/85 mmHg when measured at home is considered high. If you have diabetes, 130/80 mm Hg is high. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg.
If you have high blood pressure, you can take medication and make lifestyle changes to control it. Talk to your healthcare providers.
How to measure your blood pressure at home
It is important to make sure that your home monitor is taking correct measurements so your healthcare provider will have an accurate overview of your blood pressure.
Buying a home blood pressure monitor
Your doctor or pharmacist can help you choose a monitor. However, the Foundation suggests that the unit be automatic (instead of manual) and have been tested to meet the validation requirements of either the British Hypertension Society (BHS) or the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI). Check out the devices endorsed by Hypertension Canada.
Recommended by Hypertension Canada (www.hypertension.ca).
Recommended by Hypertension Canada (www.hypertension.ca).Look for this logo or ask a healthcare provider to help you choose the right home blood pressure monitor.
Once you have purchased a home monitor, take it to your healthcare provider’s office once or twice a year to make sure it continues to give accurate readings.
Accurate readings also depend on how you prepare to take your blood pressure. Follow these steps to get the most accurate reading:
To learn more about how to measure your blood pressure at home, watch a video from www.hypertension.ca.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, together with the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP) have translated the professional blood pressure management guidelines into patient-friendly recommendations. Read more about the Public Recommendations 2009 (for people with diabetes) and the Public Recommendations 2010 (for general public).
For more information on blood pressure please read our brochure Get Your Blood Pressure Under Control. You may also wish to use the Blood Pressure Wallet Card to keep track of your blood pressure readings.
Reviewed October 2010.