Studies over the last two decades have revealed that measurements taken by patients at home are better predictors of cardiovascular risk, and more accurate than readings taken by a doctor. In fact, Hypertension Canada recommends that Canadian physicians refer to “out-of-office” measurements over in-office readings to diagnose and treat hypertension. Several studies have shown inconsistent and inaccurate measurements in doctors offices, and “white coat hypertension” (when patients present elevated BP levels in the presence of their doctor) and “masked hypertension” (when a patient shows normal BP levels, but really has much higher BP when they are not with their doctor) can both be identified when patients monitor at home.
Of course, proper technique, and when you measure is critical for the highest accuracy at home. Make sure you relax for 5 minutes before measuring.
- Sit with your back supported with your arm supported on a table
- Do not move or speak during the reading
Your real average blood pressure is based on the average of all systolic (the higher number) and all diastolic (the lower number), averaged separately after 7 days of measurements. Take two readings in the morning before breakfast, and two readings at least 2 hours after dinner. When you calculate the averages, do not include the first day’s data.
Keeping your hypertension under control is important in avoiding serious health complications like a heart attack or stroke. The key to managing blood pressure levels is understanding your personal BP numbers. Beyond medications, there are several lifestyle modifications that will help control and lower BP including: modifications to diet, exercising more frequently, and losing weight.
When choosing a home blood pressure monitor, look for the Hypertension Canada check mark on the package. This indicates the device has been validated and is at least as accurate as the digital monitor in your physician’s office, and likely more accurate than the stethoscope and gauge your doctor uses.
BIOS diagnostics is a Canadian company that has been manufacturing blood pressure monitors for doctors and patients for over 80 years. Shop BIOS blood pressure monitors recommended by Hypertension Canada here.