For some high blood pressure patients, keeping a running log of blood pressure readings can help improve the quality of treatment and highlight any special circumstances that may require additional intervention. Sometimes your doctor will ask you to keep a blood pressure log to discover how your pressures tend to vary during different times of the day, or to see if your blood pressure shows any extreme spikes. While keeping a blood pressure log is not difficult, measuring blood pressure will require a special device and you may need to be trained how to use it properly. Your doctor can help you with this training.
Time Required: Three sessions of Five Minutes Every Day
- Choose a Quality Blood Pressure Monitor - Many different types and brands of blood pressure monitors are on the market today. Some are expensive, and some are inexpensive. Generally, buy the best blood pressure monitor that you can afford because you want a reliable and accurate reading. Blood pressure monitors may be digital or manual. While a manual blood pressure monitor may be less expensive, a digital blood pressure monitor is easier to use and offers less opportunity for error. Your doctor can help you choose a quality device that is the correct size for your body.
- Use Standard Measurement Times - Because your blood pressure fluctuates during the day, keeping a blood pressure log will give the most accurate results if you always measure your blood pressure at the same times. A morning, afternoon, and evening time are easy choices. The morning reading should be taken right after you wake up, and before you take any medicines, drink coffee, or eat breakfast.
- Keep a Standardized Record Sheet - The actual log in which you record your blood pressure should be a standardized record that includes space for the date, time, blood pressure reading, and notes. You should use the notes section to record information about any special circumstances that may be affecting your blood pressure during that reading. For example, if you took medicines before recording the reading. Any symptoms you may be experiencing at the time of the measurement should also be recorded in the notes section. You can download and print a standardized blood pressure log if you need one.
- Take Readings in a Quiet Place - Noise, distractions, and extremes in temperature can all affect both your actual blood pressure and your accuracy in using your blood pressure monitor. Taking the actual measurement is very simple once you've learned to use your blood pressure monitor and usually only takes 30 to 45 seconds. You simply attach a blood pressure cuff to your arm, press a button on the machine, and wait for the result to be displayed.
- Record Each Reading Immediately - Don't wait to write down your blood pressure readings because they're easy to forget. If you get distracted and forget what the reading was, retake your blood pressure and write an explanatory note in the appropriate section of your log sheet.
- Show the Log Sheet to Your Doctor - Your doctor will be able to explain any confusing readings on your log sheet as well as counsel you about what any trends in blood pressure readings actually mean. He will also be interested in your highest/lowest readings, when they occurred, and any symptoms you may have experienced, such as headache, dizziness, or confusion.
- Make sure you know how to use your blood pressure monitor. Ask your doctor for help if you are unsure. Proper training is essential to getting accurate readings.
- Make sure the cuff that goes on your arm is the proper size. It shouldn't be too loose or too tight. Ask your doctor to measure your arm and he can tell you what size cuff is appropriate.
- Don't try to interpret the blood pressure log yourself. Occasional strange readings, both high and low, are normal for everyone, and even trends may mean something different than they first appear to show.
- Home blood pressure monitoring is not a substitute for professional measurements. You need to have your blood pressure checked regularly by a trained medical professional.
What You Need
- Digital Blood Pressure Monitor or Manual Blood Pressure Monitor
- Pen or Pencil
- Blood Pressure Log Sheet
- Highlighter (optional)