High blood pressure or hypertension affects millions in India and worldwide. The ailment is particularly dangerous as it is mostly asymptomatic and termed a ‘silent killer’. A condition that earlier affected mostly the elderly is becoming more common among the youth too due to change in lifestyles and rising obesity. Hypertension increases the risk of cardiac ailments, strokes and other dangerous, debilitating diseases. It is essential to detect high BP at an early stage before severe damage is done. It is advisable to take BP readings daily. A regular check on the BP readings can be done accurately at home with digital BP monitors to avoid sudden complications.
However, it is essential to ensure the readings are adequately taken by following instructions mentioned in the manual. Also, it’s necessary to take certain precautions:
- Take a break of a minimum 30 minutes after exercising, taking a bath, smoking, having food and caffeine intake before taking the measurement.
- Measure BP same time every day
- Pay close attention to your posture while taking the measurement.
- Use correct cuff size.
Watch: Exercises For Hypertension:
Despite the availability of numerous good quality digital home BP monitors, many people are still reluctant to use them. This is mainly because of multiple misconceptions around the treatment & diagnosis of the disease as well as the real utility of a digital BP monitor vis a vis the traditional apparatus. Rohit Saini from OMRON Healthcare India, GM-Sales & Marketing explains about the nine significant myths around hypertension:
1# I feel fine, so why monitor my BP?
Since BP is a silent killer, it’s safer for adults to have regular check-ups.
2# I have no symptoms of high BP such as headache, dizziness, palpitation, sweating, nervousness or nausea, so no point going for a check-up.
Most BP cases are asymptomatic. Since undiagnosed cases can cause coronary heart diseases, strokes, kidney failure and more, daily monitoring is the safest option for undiagnosed but affected people.
3# I don’t have high BP. And low BP is nothing serious. So why worry about it?
Hypotension or low blood pressure must be checked and monitored too, especially if one experiences symptoms such as headache, loss of focus, giddiness or fainting, which can end in a severe fall and fracture. If not immediately treated the symptoms can lead to other complications. Nevertheless, low BP is normal for some persons. So, knowing your BP is essential.
4# I’m young. Periodic BP check is not necessary.
Today, even youngsters are developing BP; being young is no safeguard. Therefore, anyone past their teens can safely monitor BP at home within minutes as a precautionary measure.
5# I use little salt while cooking. So, BP from the high salt intake isn’t a concern.
Controlling sodium or salt intake is not limited to the amount of table salt used in cooking. Snacks, sauces, canned and processed foods also contain high amounts of sodium. Almost 75% of the sodium can be derived from ‘hidden’ sources. Read all food labels for the words ‘sodium’ and ‘soda’, which indicate the presence of a high level of sodium compounds that can trigger BP.
6# I do not need to continue with medication as I am feeling fine now. Decreasing the dosage or discontinuing medicines without the doctor’s approval is dangerous, given the threat of comorbidities. Also, daily monitoring is a must.
There is always a variation in the readings at Doctor’s Clinic and home. It seems the Digital BP monitor is not accurate. White-coat hypertension – stress induced BP during a visit to the doctor – is a reality. At the same time, one should not overlook multiple readings indicating hypertension. In such cases, taking BP measurements in the home daily for a predetermined period will be effective in determining the ideal blood pressure readings for the user, and the same should be shared with the doctor.
7# My friend was cured of hypertension. I will follow the same line of treatment rather than getting addicted to medications.
Unfortunately, hypertension is not a curable disease –. But proper lifestyle changes and regular medication can help manage the condition safely. These include eating a low-salt, well-balanced diet; abstaining from or limiting alcohol and nicotine intake; a regular exercise regimen; maintaining healthy body weight, and regularly taking prescribed medications.
8# I check my BP once in a few weeks when visiting the physician. Then why must I monitor BP at home daily?
Since hypertension can be asymptomatic and become a chronic condition, people diagnosed with the ailment should also monitor their BP at home. Variation in Blood pressure can be due to different factors such as physical activity/temperature/food intake or emotional stress, etc. Moreover, it is better to maintain a blood pressure log, tracking daily readings. If the BP keeps rising despite medicines, your doctor can decide if the regime of medications needs to be changed.
9# Digital BP monitors are not accurate
Digital BP monitors give accurate results if you follow the instructions as per the manual received with the device. Also, digital BP monitors are designed to be used at home quickly, even by first-time users and people staying alone without any assistance. With advancements like Bluetooth connectivity, one can easily share the current & historical readings with their physicians in real-time to help them make more informed decisions.
Hence, the need of the hour is to understand that diseases like these are primarily a reflection of your lifestyle, and in some cases due to family history too. It is required to be upbeat about their health and get into the habit of regular check-ups to avoid any untoward situations.
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