How (And Why) To Take Your Blood Pressure

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Hypertension (high blood pressure) increases heart disease risk. Yet the CDC reports in Are You Wrong About Your Blood Pressure, that 1 in 6 Americans has hypertension and doesn’t realize it. Like high cholesterol, hypertension has no symptoms. So if you have an elevated risk of heart disease (because of high cholesterol) and don’t know your blood pressure, your risk of heart disease may be even higher than you realize.

That’s why it’s vital for anyone with high cholesterol—or other heart disease risk factors—to monitor their blood pressure. In High Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure Raise Heart Disease Risk, I explain what the two blood pressure numbers mean and what readings constitute normal vs. high blood pressure.

At-home machines make it a snap to take and track your blood pressure at home. Some machines even use bluetooth to wirelessly record readings, which I adore. Personally I use the Omron BP786 as it has both bluetooth and 2 user capability, but there is a newer model that is less expensive: the Omron 10 Series Wireless Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor, pictured here.

While it is very easy to take your blood pressure at home, there are a few key things to know to ensure accurate readings. As the CDC’s article explains:

The Correct Way to Measure Blood Pressure:

  • Don’t eat or drink anything in the half hour before you take your blood pressure.
  • Empty your bladder before your reading.
  • Sit in a comfortable chair with your back supported for at least 5 minutes before your reading.
  • Put both feet flat on the ground, and keep your legs uncrossed.
  • Rest your arm with the cuff on a table at chest height.
  • Make sure the blood pressure cuff is snug but not too tight. The cuff should be against your bare skin, not over clothing.
  • Do not talk while your blood pressure is being measured.

If you are keeping track of your blood pressure at home, try these additional tips:

  • Use a chart, notebook, or app to keep track of your readings.
  • Always take your blood pressure at the same time every day.
  • Take at least two readings, 1 or 2 minutes apart.”

So if you have high cholesterol, monitoring your blood pressure would be a great (and oh-so-easy) New Year’s Resolution!

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