Tracking a senior’s blood pressure between medical appointments is a simple way to get an early read on issues that should not wait until your loved one can see a doctor again.  Getting an accurate read is key to knowing if you have a problem or an insignificant blip.  Having commonly available home blood pressure equipment allows for easy and frequent tracking.

And, taking blood pressure at home is often more accurate.  Seemingly minor issues can impact BP measurement resulting in an artificially inflated blood pressure reading by anywhere from two to 40 mmHg in a clinical environment.  It is called “white coat syndrome”.

There are other, seemingly innocuous, things than can impact a BP reading.  For Example, if the person whose blood pressure is being measured talks during the measurement or if his or her feet aren’t flat on the floor, there is a chance that blood pressure measurement will give a falsely high reading.  Measurements should be taken when a patient is relaxed and sitting upright with both feet flat on the floor.

When measuring blood pressure use these guidelines to help ensure your loved one receives accurate readings:

  • Allow the person being measured to sit and rest for 5 minutes before the test.
  • Drinking coffee or smoking should be avoided for 30 minutes before the reading is taken.
  • Avoid clothing being between the cuff and the arm.
  • Have the person being measured use the restroom beforehand.

As you undertake the responsibility of checking your loved one’s blood pressure at home, it is important that you work with his or her physician to select a quality device and learn how to use it properly. BP monitors can be bought at durable medical equipment stores and pharmacies, but they typically are not covered by Medicare.

In some cases, your loved one may qualify for Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM).  As of July 2019 ABPM is a covered Medicare benefit.

ABPM is a non-invasive diagnostic test that uses a device to track blood pressure over 24-hour cycles, allowing a doctor to assess a patient’s blood pressure during routine daily living, instead of when they are sitting nervously on an examination table.  ABPM may measure blood pressure more accurately and lead to the diagnosis of high blood pressure in patients who would not otherwise have been identified as having the condition.