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Digital BP monitor -- 5 things you should keep in mind

Dr Pradip Shah explains how to check your blood pressure with a digital BP monitor and other points to remember while using one.

If you suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension, then buying a digital blood pressure is the most feasible option than consulting your doctor now and then only to get your blood pressure checked. But before you opt for one, it is important to know how to use it and what to look out for when you are buying one. Our expert Dr Pradip Shah, Consultant Physician at Fortis Hospital, Mumbai shares a few things you need to know about digital BP monitor.

#1. Just like glucometer, which is used to monitor diabetes, digital BP monitor can also show some calibration error. Hence, before you check your blood pressure on the digital machine, check manually with a manometer and then check on the digital equipment. For example, if the manual reading is 120/80 mm Hg but the digital one is 110/70 mm Hg than the error is -10 mm Hg. So every time you check your blood pressure reading, make sure that the final reading will be -10 mm Hg of the digital reading. Hence, depending on the error reading (-10 mm Hg or +10 or +20 mm Hg), make sure to add or subtract the error to get the final reading.

#2. Another reason why you can get a wrong reading is when the cuff is not properly placed on the hand before taking the reading. In such a case, there is a high chance that the digital machine might end up showing either a higher or a lower reading than the normal or exact reading. Hence, make sure that the cuff is properly placed before you take the reading to avoid getting a wrong reading. Also read about how should you get your blood pressure checked while sitting, standing or lying down?

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#3. Make sure that the machine is properly fitted before you start taking the reading as it can show high reading if not properly assembled. There have been cases when the patient panics on seeing high readings and calls doctor or rushes to a hospital only to know that the reading is normal and the fault lies with the monitor. In some cases, patients also end up taking an extra tablet, when the blood pressure increases beyond a certain level (which was advised by the doctor in case of very high reading) which causes low blood pressure or hypotension. Read more on medications for high blood pressure.

#4. Opt for a digital BP monitor that is simple to use, easy to handle and easily readable. The BP equipment should produce a beep sound; hence look for a beeper (which is usually present in every BP monitor). There is no need in investing in an expensive one. There are various brands of digital BP monitor available in the market; you can choose the one that fits your bill. Some BP monitor machines have a memory chip attached, which is expensive. However, these can save your readings from day one, hence help you to track your BP reading over time.

#5. Ideally, a person should check his blood pressure reading twice a day i.e.; once in the morning and evening. In most cases, the blood pressure reading in the morning is slightly higher than the evening. Also, if you experience any symptoms of high blood pressure like a headache or breathlessness, then do check your blood pressure immediately. If your blood pressure reading comes normal, on an average, then you can check it once or twice a week as well.

Dr Pradip Shah says that investing in a digital BP monitor is a good idea as it is very helpful for people with hypertension. As in most cases, a BP monitor comes handy to check blood pressure if suffering from a headache at midnight and also identify any comorbid condition like heart disease and stroke.

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