Once upon a time, only a doctor could tell how much force there was behind a patients blood flow. It was done by palpitation and it took a skilled person to do it. When the blood pressure cuff, also called a sphygmomanometer, came out doctors did not necessarily want to give up their authority in this arena.
It came out in the early 1900s, and one of the applications many thought it would be helpful in was to allow nurses to measure BP and give the information to the doctor. It took a while for that to catch on, but eventually the changes were made.
Allowing the public to have access to this equipment also took time. That’s understandable as the old kits were somewhat complicated to use, particularly if you were trying to take your own pressure reading. Juggling a stethoscope, the pump bulb and the gauge at the same time can be tricky when one hand has to stay relatively inactive.
Thankfully, that too has changed. Modern cuffs are digital and don’t require the stethoscope at all. They are also fairly inexpensive. That is one way you can monitor your numbers, and it is a fairly good one.
Many grocery stores and pharmacies have machines that will do the same thing. You sit down, slip your arm in the machine’s sleeve and press start. They will usually show you both your blood pressure and your pulse rate. A chart on the machine can give you an idea if your readings are normal, prehypertensive or stage one/two hypertension.
It is a good idea, if you are monitoring your BP, to keep a log. Check it once or twice a day, preferably at about the same time. Write down the numbers so you can share it with your doctor.
It is a good idea to remain somewhat sedentary for about twenty minutes prior to taking it. Also, avoid drinking anything with caffeine in it for about an hour prior to taking it. Both of these things can skew the numbers, giving a false high.
If you notice that the readings are regularly over 130/80, make an appointment to see your doctor. Bring your log along so that the doctor can see the consistency in the readings. At this point, you will probably receive some instructions telling you how to avoid getting into actual hypertension, which starts at 140/90. These will probably include changes in your diet and an exercise program. This could help you avoid high blood pressure and all the conditions that can be caused by it.