Here at the Brook Health Centre we’re keen to involve our patients as much as possible in decisions regarding their own health. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common problem, and there is overwhelming evidence to support the benefit of reducing high blood pressure in reducing your risk of stroke, heart disease and death.
Traditionally, blood pressure measurement has been done at the doctors’ office, but recently electronic home blood pressure (BP) recording machines have become widely available. We’re delighted that you can now measure your blood pressure at home should you wish, as this has the following benefits:
- A greater number of recordings gives a more accurate average ‘true’ blood pressure, to determine if treatment is required or needs adjusting.
- The patient feels more empowered and informed about their healthcare.
- Everyone’s blood pressure is bit higher in the doctor’s office than at home, home recordings remove the element of ‘white coat hypertension’ that affects some people more than others.
Are there any disadvantages? There may be:
- The evidence we use to determine the thresholds for defining high blood pressure is traditionally based on doctors’ office measurements—the evidence for home readings may yet change.
- There is a risk of over-medicalising the issue and causing some people too much anxiety about their blood pressure. Everyone’s blood pressure varies naturally during the day.
Some people don’t want to or are unable to perform home blood pressure readings—that’s fine, this is purely optional.
You can buy a machine. Some machines are more accurate than others, and we recommend that you buy one from the list of validated machines by the British Hypertension Society. You will need a large cuff if you have a large arm.
We also have some machines we can loan to you.
What to do
- Obtain a validated machine as advised above.
- You can record your readings on the charts below. The Excel spreadsheet will calculate your average blood pressure for you.
- Please bring a copy of one or other record to your consultation.
Click here to download a Home Blood Pressure Record
How do I take my blood pressure?
Please follow the instructions with the machine. Note the instructions regarding cuff size (you may need to buy a large cuff), positioning (seated, legs uncrossed, back and arm supported) and getting used to the machine with several measurements before recording them.
Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM)
The latest option we have to offer is ABPM. The nurse can fit you with a special new BP machine which you wear for 24 hours, then return the next day. It checks your BP every hour, and we can download the data from it to calculate your average blood pressure. It may be that this is more accurate than home readings over a week, although will require you to attend the surgery on consecutive days.
Speak to reception or your Clinician if you wish to arrange an ABPM fitting.
Other than medication, what else can I do to help my blood pressure?
This depends on the level of blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease and stroke such as whether you smoke, have raise cholesterol, diabetes or a worrying family history. We will discuss these during your consultation before we agree on the best course of action for you.
Lifestyle measures that have been shown to reduce blood pressure include:
- Regular exercise
- Not drinking alcohol excessively
- Reducing caffeine intake
- Reducing salt intake
- Stopping smoking
What do I do now?
The information on this website is for information only. Please make an appointment for a face-to-face or telephone consultation with one of the doctors or nurses to make a formal assessment.
Where can I find more information?
The Blood Pressure Association has further information about home monitoring.
The website www.patient.co.uk is a trusted source of information for patients in general. They do a good information sheet on high blood pressure and the different treatments for it.