June 27, 2008

A Blood Pressure Monitor Could Save Your Life

by Alastair Hamilton

People today are more and more aware of what they need to do to ensure that they live long, healthy lives. Eating well, exercising, and getting a good night's sleep are the three keys to maintaining your health, and prevention is always better than cure.

There are many tools that can be acquired by the average individual to help them keep track of their health, and one of these is a blood pressure monitor.

Probably everyone has seen the blood pressure monitor stations in pharmacies, and has sat there and checked their blood pressure at one time or another.

But checking your blood pressure sporadically, or every six months when you visit your doctor, does not help very much. A single reading means nothing. It is only by checking your blood over the course of time that a true picture of the state of your blood pressure will be shown.

And these days, portable blood pressure monitors are so inexpensive and easy to use that there is no reason why you should not acquire one to keep in your own home - and use on a daily basis.

If people suffer from high blood pressure, or have a family history of heart disease, such a monitor is imperative. Athletes concerned with their progress will also find the monitor helpful.

What Is A Blood Pressure Monitor

A home monitor consists of a cuff which you place around your bicep. This is connected to a small machine full of electronics, with a digital display. You press the Start button, and the cuff immediately inflates and tighten on your arm. Because it is so tight, it can sense how quickly the blood is flowing through your veins. This is your blood pressure.

The numbers given are your systolic and diastolic numbers, and your pulse.

Keep a notebook beside the machine, and each day take your blood pressure in the morning and at night. Write down the numbers in your notebook, and if you ever see any noticeable difference, especially if the numbers become very high, you'll know that it's time to visit your doctor for a consultation.

What does "systolic" and "diastolic" mean, anyway?

The definition of "systolic" is: The blood pressure when the heart is contracting.
The definition of "diastolic" is: The arterial pressure during the interval between heartbeats.

In other words, your heart contracts and then relaxes with each heartbeat - pushing your blood through your veins. When it contracts it is called systole and when it relaxes it is called diastole.

So you've taken your blood pressure. The typical numbers for a healthy human being are around 120 systolic and 80 diastolic. If your numbers are near these, that's good. If you've been exercising or under stress your numbers may be inflated - that's why it's important to take daily readings so that you can compare them over time. If your numbers are consistently higher than this, it would be well to visit your doctor - bringing your records with you - to see if anything is amiss.

Alastair Hamilton is a freelance writer for http://www.bikecyclingreviews.com . A website with tips on blood pressure at Polar heart rate monitors