Everyone's blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, but doctors take readings to try to see what a person's average blood pressure is at rest. Many people suspect the readings taken at their doctor's office are artificially high because they are nervous. This phenomenon is called "white-coat" hypertension and is fairly common.
Inflated readings are more than just a nuisance. They can prompt a physician to order stronger medications than necessary. So many doctors urge their patients to use home blood pressure monitors.
The American Heart Association says people who monitor regularly at home tend to have their blood pressure under better control. Home monitoring can give you immediate feedback about the changes you are making or medicine you are taking.
Many health insurance policies decline to cover them, but the devices cost as little as $30-$40. The American Heart Association recommends only models with a cuff that goes around your arm, not the wrist or finger models.
Take your monitor to your next doctor's visit to verify that it's measuring accurately. After that, check its accuracy once a year at your doctor's office.
Check your pressure at the same time of day, as blood pressure varies throughout the day. Take at least two readings -- one minute apart -- each time you monitor. Record both readings in a notebook or chart.
Read on for our simple tips to get the most accurate blood pressure reading, whether you're at home or at the doctor's office.