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Every adult, especially above the age of 30, should regularly monitor some of the primary health indicators like blood pressure. Measuring blood pressure with a home blood pressure monitor takes merely a couple of minutes. Also it is almost effortless, low-cost, and yet can be lifesaving.

Hypertension is called “silent killer,” since many people don’t know that they have it until something untoward happens. Owning a home blood pressure monitor is the only way to detect the salient killer at earliest, and keep an eye on it.

Although hypertension and cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of mortality and morbidity globally, however, specific ethnic groups are more prone to it. South Asians or Indians due to their dietary habits, but perhaps more even due to lack of physical exercise are considered to be at highest risk. Studies in western nations have shown that Indians and South Asians have the highest prevalence of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

So how common is the problem? Well, latest Indian research shows that more than 30% of Indians are hypertensive, yes, that is genuinely lots. This statistic does not include the latest recommendation by American Heart Association. According to that, another 30% or more of the adult population is at borderline (systolic between 120-130, or diastolic between 80-90 mmHg). That means two-thirds of adults have a pressing reason to measure blood pressure on a regular basis.

Why you should have a blood pressure monitor at home?

Considering the widespread nature of the problem, one simply cannot visit physician’s office each time he or she feels unwell or doubt. Self-monitoring is the most dependable way to know the blood pressure. Moreover, borderline blood pressure needs regular monitoring. Marginal blood pressure is treated with lifestyle changes like exercise, stress management, and low salt intake, and rarely by medications.

Another reason to consider measuring blood pressure at home is that some people may have an occasional rise in blood pressure, rather having a permanent issue. In such cases, home monitoring is the best option.

Measuring blood pressure at home is always more accurate. Most people are not aware of so-called “white coat syndrome.” Research shows that when doctor measures blood pressure, people become more stressed and worried. Hence this is leading to false higher reading and wrong diagnosis of hypertension. While at home, people get more relaxation and thus results more accurate.

Also regular monitoring would save you from a heart attack and debilitating or fatal stroke. Cardiovascular diseases are on the rise in India.

When to measure blood pressure?

  1. Measure blood pressure two times a day, once in the morning, sometimes after waking, but before exercise or taking medications. Another time is in the evening.
  2. Always measure the blood pressure at the same time of the day, for better comparison.
  3. Measure blood pressure in quiet environment.
  4. Do not measure blood pressure if you are feeling stressed out, too cold, anxious, full-bladder, and so on.

How to measure blood pressure?

  1. Relax few minutes before taking a reading.
  2. Sit comfortably with the arm supported by the table, and arm should be at the level of the heart.
  3. Do not cross your legs.
  4. Make sure that cuff placement is about 2 cm above the elbow, and that tubing is facing the center of the arm in front. Some equipment may have an arrow marking to show that.

How to choose a blood pressure monitor?

Choosing the right kind of equipment is not a big science. Vital is just to consider the manufacturer. Omron is one of the leading manufacturers in the world and is popular for making the most accurate blood pressure monitors. Most of the blood pressure monitors would also tell about the heart rate. Another thing to consider is the duration of the warranty.

Many people worry about the accuracy of these devices, which is entirely wrong. As already said that measurements taken at home are even more accurate due to the absence of “white coat syndrome.” These devices are calibrated and proven for accuracy.

Though, there is one exception, when mechanical equipment (often used by physicians) may provide more accurate results. That is when a person is suffering from severe arrhythmia (extremely irregular heartbeat), but then most people would know about it in advance if they have the problem of missed beat and so on. Moreover, home blood pressure monitors may, in fact, help in the diagnosis of irregular heart rhythm in some cases.


Dr. Preet Pal Singh Bhinder
Reviewed by Dr. Preet Pal Singh Bhinder