Blood pressure is the pressure of blood within the arteries, and is measured usually by a General Practitioner. The results are given as two numbers, the systolic pressure (the pressure on the arteries when the heart contracts) and the diastolic pressure (the pressure in the arteries when the heart rest in between each beat).
A reading over 140/90 is consider to be elevated and 'mild' high blood pressure, a reading over 160/100 is classed as Hypertension. High blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease, strokes and other serious conditions that will ultimately do increased life expectancy no good at all and is known as the silent killer.
Since the age of 18 I have suffered with high blood pressure, truth be told, I actually now suffer from Hypertension which is stupidly high blood pressure where there is a high risk of continued damage to my heart and a significantly high risk of a stroke or heart attack.
Medication has been part of my life to try and control this but following a move from Manchester and London I took a break from taking it until a routine visit to the doctors 4 years ago revealed that my blood pressure was 185/110 - not good!
I was immediately put onto a course of medication of Ramipril (the side effects of which were truly unbearable) that ultimately did bring it down but I continued to develop headaches on a daily basis, an awful TB like dry cough and became incredibly fatigued. More recent visits have shown readings of 196/115 and 185/120. The elevated readings can be put down in part to my absolute fear of doctors, hospitals and the fact that my GP has medieval views of medicine that include blood letting at every opportunity (blood tests).
To combat 'dodgy' readings I decided to buy my own monitor from Boots to keep at home leading onto the IBP home blood pressure monitor (IBP HL 888 JF the actual make and model) – a snip at £29.99 in my opinion. Small and compact, the monitor takes batteries and is pretty much fool proof. I’m no wizard with technology but the operation couldn’t be easier and the screen and reading self-explanatory.
As with a blood pressure machine at the doctors, the readings are taken after a cuff is strapped around the upper arm and inflated automatically by the machine until a pulse is detected and blood pressure is picked up within the artery in the arm. A diagram on the cuff makes the process of strapping it on very straightforward and easy to do. As the cuff inflates the sensation is very strange and it does tighten to an extent that it feels as though the blood is being cut off to the lower arm and the feeling of a strong pulse in the arm is a tad freaky!
The cuff is plugged into a large LCD screen that records the blood pressure as the cuff inflates and slowly deflates. At the same time a little heart flashes on the screen in time with your pulse. As the cuff finally deflates the actual blood pressure reading is displayed on the monitor. The LCD screen is 12cm by 10cm and gives the date, time, systolic pressure, diastolic pressure and pulse. On the front of the screen are two large buttons, one to start and stop the inflation process and a memory button that allows up to 30 readings for up to 3 users to be stored over a period of time.
I have owned the machine for around 3 years now and it just keeps on going – great value for money, it gives readings that are accurate giving peace of mind. I’m incredibly pleased with the IBP monitor - it has taken on something of novelty value with friends and family (who think it's funny how high my readings go), but in short, it gives me peace of mind and will as I start to make further adjustments to my lifestyle (cutting down on the filthy cigarettes and alcohol) the machine should in theory allow me to record the actual benefits, making the suffering that little bit more bearable!
It’s worth noting that as around 50% of over 65's and 25% of those in middle age suffer from high blood pressure the chances are that you could be at risk without actually knowing and therefore this is an essential piece of kit for any home.
Do you have a machine like this at home?