Self-monitoring leads to better control of your blood pressure

An estimated one out of five individuals in Canada suffers from hypertension. Although it is called “silent” because it usually causes no symptoms, this disease is nevertheless the cause of many cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.

An estimated one out of five individuals in Canada suffers from hypertension. Although it is called “silent” because it usually causes no symptoms, this disease is nevertheless the cause of many cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. 

Doctors recommend various ways for hypertensive patients to better control their condition: maintain a healthy body weight, eat healthy, stay active, manage stress levels and take medications as prescribed. A recent analysis of several studies has also now confirmed that people who regularly monitor their own blood pressure tend to have better control over their hypertension, especially when paired with other patient resources such as online materials or phone calls with healthcare workers.

Self-monitoring not only allows patients to be aware of their numbers, but also to measure the negative or positive impact of certain situations or lifestyle modifications (e.g. negative impact of a stressful time, or positive impact of weight loss).

When should you measure your blood pressure? It is usually recommended that you take two measurements in the morning (one minute apart, before taking any medication) and twice at night, for one week. A series of consecutive readings gives a more accurate portrait than a single one. 

In order for the readings to be reliable, it is important that you use a certified device (look for the Canadian Hypertension Society logo) and follow these directions when taking a reading:

  • Sit comfortably for at least five minutes beforehand
  • Your arm should be at heart level and your feet should be flat on the floor (do not cross your legs)
  • The cuff must be applied directly to the skin
  • Do not drink caffeine or smoke in the 30 minutes preceding a measurement
  • Make sure you don’t need to go to the toilet
  • Do not speak while the unit is taking the reading

Don’t hesitate to consult your pharmacist, who can help you choose a unit and show you how to use it!

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_139479.html

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