September 26, 2023
Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring: Why, When, and Who Should Do It?
Health diaries save lives. They can help detect potential problems early, track trends, improve treatment plans, empower self-care, enhance compliance, facilitate effective communication with healthcare providers and more.
In fact, such “user-centered, simple information systems” that “facilitate rapid recording of essential patient-level data” are one of the five components recommended by World Health Organization (WHO) for effective hypertension care, along with practical dose- and drug-specific treatment protocols, access to affordable medication, team-based care, and follow-up visits with blood pressure monitoring.
On September 19, 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its first-ever report on the devastating global impact of high blood pressure. Hypertension affects 1 in 3 adults worldwide leading to more than 1 000 deaths from strokes and heart attacks every hour. Only half of people with hypertension are aware of their condition and only 1 out of 5 receive adequate treatment, while the disease can be effectively controlled and managed with simple low-cost medication regimens and lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthier diet, quitting tobacco, being more active.
What is Hypertension and What Blood Pressure is Considered High?
Hypertension is defined by the World Health Organization as blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher. The first number represents systolic blood pressure - the pressure in a person’s blood vessels when the heart contracts or beats, and the second number represents diastolic pressure – the pressure in the vessels when the heart rests between beats. Hypertension can be diagnosed if blood pressure exceeds one or both of these numbers when measured on two different days.
“Most heart attacks and strokes in the world today can be prevented with affordable, safe, accessible medicines and other interventions, such as sodium reduction,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries. “Treating hypertension through primary health care will save lives, while also saving billions of dollars a year.”
Hypertension is considered to be a silent condition, often with no symptoms, taking years and even decades to be diagnosed. However, checking a person’s blood pressure regularly will help detect "silent hypertension” and treat it in time.
So Why Keep a Blood Pressure Diary?
- To Detect Potential Problems Early: sudden spikes or dips in blood pressure that require prompt medical attention can be revealed.
- To Track Trends: monitoring blood pressure trends over time allows individuals to identify patterns and potential triggers for high or low readings.
- To Monitor and Improve the Effectiveness of Treatment Plans: it helps healthcare providers to fine-tune treatment plans, track how well a prescribed medication is working, determine if adjustments are needed for better blood pressure control and to prevent complications.
- To Empower Self-Care: keeping a blood pressure diary helps people to gain a sense of control and ownership over their health, take an active role in managing their blood pressure, and motivating them to make healthier choices in diet, exercise, and stress management.
- To Facilitate Effective Communication: maintaining a blood pressure diary fosters open communication between individuals and their healthcare providers, leading to more effective care.
- To Enhance Compliance: health diaries promote adherence to treatment plans and medications by offering a tangible record of progress and outcomes.
Ultimately, anyone wanting to actively monitor and manage their blood pressure can benefit from keeping a blood pressure diary. It provides valuable insights into a person’s health and can facilitate better communication with healthcare providers. Personal blood pressure logs play a crucial role in achieving better blood pressure control and reducing the risk of complications.
Who Else and for What Reason Should Track Blood Pressure?
WHO says that prevention, early detection, and effective management of hypertension are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care and should be prioritized in national primary care programs. However, aside from hypertension, there are several other health conditions and circumstances that warrant regular blood pressure monitoring, including:
- Cardiovascular Disease: people with cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, or previous heart attacks should monitor their blood pressure regularly to prevent complications and optimize treatment.
- Diabetes: individuals with diabetes have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure. Regular blood pressure monitoring helps manage both conditions and reduces the risk of diabetic complications.
- Kidney Disease: chronic kidney disease (CKD) can lead to hypertension and vice versa. Monitoring blood pressure is vital in managing kidney health and preventing further damage.
- Pregnancy: blood pressure monitoring is crucial during pregnancy, as it helps to detect gestational hypertension (high blood pressure during pregnancy) and other potentially serious conditions that require medical intervention.
- Sleep Apnea: it can contribute to high blood pressure. Logging blood pressure can help individuals with sleep apnea to assess its impact on cardiovascular health and guide appropriate treatment.
- Obesity: it is closely linked to hypertension. Regular blood pressure monitoring is necessary for individuals with obesity to manage their blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health.
- Chronic Stress: it can impact blood pressure levels. Monitoring blood pressure helps individuals identify any adverse effects of stress on their cardiovascular health and take timely steps to manage stress effectively.
- Medication Side Effects: various medications are designed to or can influence blood pressure as a side-effect. Monitoring blood pressure helps evaluate the impact of medications and allows healthcare professionals to adjust dosages as needed.
- Family History of Hypertension: individuals with a family history of hypertension are at a higher risk. Regular blood pressure monitoring helps to detect any early signs of hypertension and allows for proactive measures to prevent its onset.
- Older Age: older adults are more prone to hypertension, and keeping a blood pressure diary can be particularly helpful for this demographic.
In summary, monitoring blood pressure is a crucial aspect of maintaining good health and preventing serious medical conditions. It empowers individuals to take control of their health and to work with healthcare professionals on developing and implementing effective treatment plans.
We suggest using the MedM Health Diary for logging and tracking of not only blood pressure, but also blood glucose, activity, sleep, weight, temperature, SpO2, ECG and 10 other health parameters. The app can automatically collect measurements from 700+ of smart Bluetooth-enabled meters, and allows users to print out reports, save data to the cloud and even share it online with trusted family members and caregivers. MedM Health is built to support users in reaching their health & wellness goals, managing their own or a loved one's chronic condition, and improving their quality of life.