The Right Fit Ensures Proper Home Blood Pressure Monitoring
Are your clients checking their blood pressure at home? According to the Mayo Clinic, home monitoring can help people keep closer tabs on blood pressure while in a comfortable, familiar setting. The benefits of home monitoring include tracking treatment, helping to alert doctors of potential health complications, controlling blood pressure, cutting health care costs and helping to diagnose high blood pressure.
But be forewarned, clients with an irregular heartbeat might not get an accurate reading from a home monitor. Also, choosing a monitor based on physical condition is key. For example, clients who are overweight or very muscular will need a monitor with a larger arm cuff. Those with hearing loss will need a monitor with a digital display.
All monitors have the same basic components an inflatable cuff or strap, a gauge for readouts and sometimes a stethoscope, depending on the model. Features on home blood pressure monitors vary widely, from the basic manual model to a fully automated device that sends data straight to the doctor's office. Here are some general features to consider when choosing a blood pressure monitor, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Cuff size Many monitors come with different-sized cuffs. Make sure the cuff fits the client properly or the reading will be off.
- Display For clients who have poor vision, a larger display may be necessary.
- Stethoscope Ensure that the client can hear the sounds clearly and knows how to interpret those sounds.
- Validation Recommend only validated instruments for accurate readings.
- Cost Since many insurances do not cover home blood pressure monitors, make sure the cost fits in the client's budget.
Home readings vary from medical offices, typically by a measurement of about five points, according to the Mayo Clinic. But clients should contact their doctor if they have unusual or persistent increases in blood pressure or if the home reading shows that your blood pressure is higher than normal with symptoms such as severe headache, chest pain, numbness or tingling in the face or limbs.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, home blood pressure monitors should be professionally check for accuracy once a year. Proper care and storage will prolong the life and accuracy of the monitor. The organization recommends checking the device to make sure the tubing is not twisted when the monitor is stored, and keeping it away from heat. Periodically check the tubing for cracks and leaks as well.
This article originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of HME Business.