Home monitoring, as well as reducing the need for frequent face to face medical appointments, can be very useful, for several reasons:
Measuring blood pressure at home can be very useful and is now an important part of managing high blood pressure, but it is not for everyone. Some people become more anxious when they start measuring at home and end up taking readings far too often. If you feel anxious you can discuss this with your doctor or nurse first. Before you decide to try measuring your blood pressure at home, ask yourself: is this going to make me feel more relaxed or more worried?
You may already have a blood pressure monitor, you may be supplied a monitor by your GPpractice or you may be encouraged to buy a validated BP monitor.
If you are purchasing your own BP monitor it is important to be sure that the monitor you choose is the right one for you; there are a wide range of home monitors available.
Make sure that the monitor you choose has been ‘clinically validated’ for accuracy. This means that it has gone through a series of tests to make sure it gives results that you and your doctor can trust. A list of clinically validated home blood pressure monitors can be obtained from the British and Irish Hypertension Society (www.bihsoc.org) or by contacting the Blood Pressure UK helpline on: 020 7882 6218.
An upper-arm monitor will come with a cuff that you need to wrap around your arm. If you use a cuff that is the wrong size for you, your reading will not be correct. Measure around your upper arm at the midpoint between your shoulder and elbow and check the information for the individual monitor regarding the cuff size you require. Most monitors will come with a medium sized cuff. You may have to order a different sized cuff separately. Please note that cuff sizes may vary slightly according to manufacturer.
When and how often you take readings will depend on your blood pressure. Your doctor or nurse will advise you on this. In most cases, initially, you will be asked to take at least two BP readings twice daily(morning and evening) ideally for 4 consecutive days or as advised by your doctor.
There are a few simple steps that you can follow to be sure that you get an accurate measurement.
Do not round your measurements up or down, just write down the number that comes up on the monitor – If you do not keep accurate records of your blood pressure, this may affect the treatment you receive. e.g. if your blood pressure is 127/84 do not round to 130/80-90.
If the monitor shows an error code read the manufacturer’s instruction booklet and follow the advice. If the error code is not related to a monitor issue and keeps occurring, inform your GP practice of the code in the usual way.
Normal or healthy blood pressure readings measured at home should usually (unless your doctor advises differently) be less than:
Do not be alarmed if you get an unexpected high reading – A one-off reading may be nothing to worry about. Measure your blood pressure again at another time, but if you find that it continues to be high after a period, contact your doctor or nurse.
Important: If you record two or more BP readings in a row, over 170/115mmHg (a top reading of over 170 or a bottom reading of more than 115), you should contact your GP practice the same day. If your GP practice is closed ring 111 for advice.
Do not check your blood pressure too often or you may become worried or stressed about small changes in your reading – This can raise your blood pressure temporarily. Worrying about your blood pressure reading may make it higher.
All readings, along with your name and date of birth, should be documented and then submitted via our Blood Pressure Form
Following submission of readings your healthcare team will contact you to discuss your BP management plan and next steps with regards monitoring.
For further information on Home Blood Pressure Monitoring please see the following resources:
1. The British Heart Foundation (BHF)
Manage your blood pressure at home hub – a new hub website to help measure and manage blood pressure at home during the pandemic. In particular:
2. Blood Pressure UK: www.bloodpressureuk.org/
3. Stroke Association: www.stroke.org.uk/what-is-stroke/
4. Bradford Healthy Hearts: www.bradfordshealthyhearts.co.uk/