Reading Your Blood Pressure
If you are looking to measure your own blood pressure, but would prefer not to use electronic devices, then instead you may purchase the mechanical type, which requires a stethoscope to read the column of mercury. Once you become adept at using the stethoscope, your readings will be more accurate than those of battery-operated devices. You only need to learn how to listen for the blood flow at two different pressures: The first one is a beat-beat-beat and the second a steady flow. Keep practicing and you will get it correct. If you have trouble, ask a nurse or your doctor to show you.
The more you know and understand about your body, the greater respect you’ll have for it, and the better care you’ll take of it. To quote Satchel Paige as an old man, “Boy, if I’d known I’d need this body so long, I’d of taken better care of it.”
It is crucial to monitor your blood pressure daily whether you do it or you have someone else do it, such as a nurse where you work, or a friend. The one measurement taken at the doctor’s office every six or twelve months, when you’re nervous or even anxious, is inadequate, and it’s not practical to go to her office daily, let alone once weekly. Besides the impracticality, studies have shown that when a doctor takes a patient’s blood pressure, it’s generally on the high side. This problem even has a name, white-coat hypertension.
If you seriously want to control your blood pressure without drugs, you should measure progress daily, or at the very least every three days. And you should keep the data you accumulate on yourself in a diary. Blood pressure measured regularly and consistently is a quantitative picture of how your vascular system is working and the wear and tear it is receiving. It is more quantitative and more precise than most other measurements, such as weight, cholesterol, blood sugar, and so on.
The beauty of taking your blood pressure is that you can do it yourself quickly and gain an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of your body. But there’s more. As you make progress in gaining control, you’ll begin to see how much you control your own health. You’ll realize that small changes in diet, a moderate amount of exercise, and a diversion or hobby can have a profound influence on your health. And you will realize that you are more in control of your health than you ever thought.