Do-it-yourself blood pressure readings are better for heart disease and stroke risk assessment. The study found that the risk of heart disease and stroke was higher among patients with higher systolic readings (the top number) in the morning. Readings of 145 mm Hg indicated a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, compared to readings of 125 mm Hg.
Lead researcher Dr. Kazuomi Kario said, “In clinical practice, morning home blood pressure may predict heart disease and stroke better than office blood pressure, and be more effective in managing high blood pressure. Few reports have investigated the predictive ability of home blood pressure for heart disease and stroke. This largest home blood pressure study is the first to demonstrate that morning home blood pressure may be superior to clinic pressure.”
The researchers followed over 21,000 patients with high blood pressure over the course of two years. During the follow-up period, 127 patients experienced stroke and 121 developed heart problems.
Stroke rates were much higher among those with higher morning systolic readings – over 145 mm Hg – compared to those who had readings below 125 mm Hg. This is also comparative to the in-office assessment where stroke risk was higher among those with readings over 150 mm Hg.
For heart disease, the risk was highest with a morning home reading of over 140 mm Hg as well, and over 160 mm Hg for in-office readings.
High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, and premature death.
Taking your blood pressure at home is a simple task. The American Heart Association recommends using a cuffed sleeve device as the finger readers are less accurate.
How to check blood pressure at home
There are two numbers involved in a blood pressure reading: systolic and diastolic. Systolic, the top number, refers to the amount of pressure in the arteries with every heartbeat. Diastolic, the bottom number, measures the pressure in arteries between heartbeats.
Normal blood pressure is considered to be 120/80 mm Hg, prehypertension is 120-139/80-90 mm Hg, stage one hypertension is 140-159/90-99 mm Hg, stage two hypertension is over 160/100 mm Hg, and hypertensive crisis is a reading of over 180/110 mm Hg.
Blood pressure can fluctuate numerous times throughout the day for many reasons, including standing up, sitting down, eating a meal, or being stressed. Checking your blood pressure at home is effective because you can find out what is your norm by checking your blood pressure at different times throughout the day. If you wait for your doctor to check your blood pressure, you could be missing out on elevations that may occur outside of the doctor’s office and could indicate a problem.
Checking your blood pressure at home is an easy task and requires just a simple automatic blood pressure measuring device. Wrap the upper arm with a cuff, push a button, and the device will do the rest of the work for you. It’s that simple. Your reading will appear promptly on the screen. Keep a log of your blood pressure readings for further comparison.
By frequently checking your blood pressure, you can track your progress and make efforts to lower it if it comes out to be high. You can also share your records with your doctor who can then take a deeper look into any possible health issue.
Speak to your doctor about device recommendations and tips on how to properly measure your blood pressure at home. Avoid alcohol or caffeine prior to checking your blood pressure. Ensure you are still and comfortable and that your arm isn’t raised. Don’t take your readings immediately after you’ve performed any physical activity. Lastly, always remember to document your numbers for your records.