Blood Pressure Monitoring (Hypertension monitoring)
In order to monitor your health we monitor your blood pressure annually. We will remind you to submit readings annually. In addition some patients on blood pressure lowering medications need an annual blood test.
Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak we have had to change the way we manage blood pressure.
We are unable to provide Blood Pressure monitoring within the surgery at this time as it is not sensible to share blood pressure monitoring equipment. In addition we have been advised to minimise attendance at the surgery for your safety.
We do still want to support you with you keeping your blood pressure at a safe level, therefore we would encourage you to purchase a machine to monitor your blood pressure yourself. These can be purchased for £15 pounds upwards from your local chemist including Lloyds Pharmacy and The Fordingbridge Pharmacy, as well as online.
Your blood pressure is often lower when taken on a machine at home, in a more relaxed environment than the surgery. Monitoring you own Blood Pressure also helps you to take control of you own condition and allows you to see the effects of lifestyle measures you are undertaking to lower your Blood Pressure.
A list of validated Blood Pressure monitors for use at home can be found at the link below if you don’t already use a monitor.
Home Blood pressure monitors
Please take 2 readings at each sitting and for 3 days unless your GP has asked for a week’s readings, which is normally for the diagnosis of high Blood Pressure.
If you do not have a blood pressure monitor, self-check blood pressure booth appointments are available to book online or by telephoning reception.
These appointments will take place using the POD in an open top booth in the Nurses' marquee at the surgery and a volunteer will be there to guide you
We will only contact you about your blood pressure if it is elevated. Depending on the demands throughout the coronavirus outbreak we may only contact you if it is significantly elevated and putting you at immediate risk.
Please do what you can to control your blood pressure using lifestyle measures
Further information about high blood pressure can be found here including lifestyle advice to help you control your blood pressure.
What is Blood Pressure
A blood pressure test is a simple way of checking if your blood pressure is too high or too low.
Blood pressure is the term used to describe the strength with which your blood pushes on the sides of your arteries as it's pumped around your body.
Blood Pressure Chart
A blood pressure test is the only way to find out if your blood pressure is too high or too low, because most people won't have any obvious symptoms. Having a test is easy and could save your life.
When should I get my blood pressure tested?
You can ask for a blood pressure test if you're worried about your blood pressure at any point.
You can get your blood pressure tested at a number of places, including:
- your local GP surgery
- some pharmacies
- some workplaces
- at home (see home blood pressure testing above)
- at an NHS Health Check appointment offered to adults in England aged 40-74
It's recommended that all adults over 40 years of age have their blood pressure tested at least every five years so any potential problems can be detected early.
If you've already been diagnosed with high or low blood pressure or you're at a particularly high risk of these problems, you may need to have more frequent tests to monitor your blood pressure.
How blood pressure is tested
A device called a sphygmomanometer will be used to measure your blood pressure.
This usually consists of a stethoscope, arm cuff, pump and dial, although automatic devices that use sensors and have a digital display are also commonly used nowadays.
It's best to sit down with your back supported and legs uncrossed for the test. You'll usually need to roll up your sleeves or remove any long-sleeved clothing, so the cuff can be placed around your upper arm. Try to relax and avoid talking while the test is carried out.
During the test:
- hold out one of your arms so it's at the same level as your heart, and the cuff is placed around it – your arm should be supported in this position, such as with a cushion or arm of a chair
- the cuff is pumped up to restrict the blood flow in your arm – this squeezing may feel a bit uncomfortable, but only lasts a few seconds
- the pressure in the cuff is slowly released while a stethoscope is used to listen to your pulse (digital devices use sensors to detect vibrations in your arteries)
- the pressure in the cuff is recorded at two points as the blood flow starts to return to your arm – these measurements are used to give your blood pressure reading (see below)
You can usually find out your result straight away, either from the healthcare professional carrying out the test or on the digital display.
Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring
In some cases, your doctor may recommend 24-hour or ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM).
This is where your blood pressure is tested automatically around every 30 minutes over a 24-hour period using a cuff attached to a portable device worn on your waist.
ABPM can help to give a clear picture of how your blood pressure changes over the course of a day.
You should continue with your normal daily activities during the test, although you must avoid getting the equipment wet.
Understanding your blood pressure reading
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is given as two figures:
- systolic pressure – the pressure when your heart pushes blood out
- diastolic pressure – the pressure when your heart rests between beats
For example, if your blood pressure is "140 over 90" or 140/90mmHg, it means you have a systolic pressure of 140mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 90mmHg.
As a general guide:
- normal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
- high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
- low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower
A blood pressure reading between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you're at risk of developing high blood pressure if you don't take steps to keep your blood pressure under control.
Controlling your blood pressure
If your blood pressure is found to be too high or too low, your GP or the healthcare professional performing the test can advise you about ways to control it.
This may involve:
- adopting a healthy, balanced diet and restricting your salt intake
- getting regular exercise
- cutting down on alcohol
- losing weight
- stopping smoking
- taking medication, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or calcium channel blockers
In some cases, you may be referred to a doctor such as a cardiologist (heart specialist) to discuss treatment options.