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July 2018

Got Diabetes and High Blood Pressure? Track Your Blood Pressure at Home

Two out of three people with diabetes also have high blood pressure. If you’re in that group, new guidelines from both the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association (AHA) agree: You should be checking your blood pressure at home in between doctor visits. But do you know how to do it correctly?

Blood pressure monitor

Choosing a blood pressure monitor

Tracking your blood pressure at home helps your doctor tell how well your high blood pressure treatment is working. The AHA recommends using a monitor with a cuff that fits on your upper arm and inflates automatically. Wrist and finger monitors are less reliable.

Make sure the cuff is the right size for your arm. Also, if you’re an older adult or pregnant woman, look for a monitor validated for that use. If in doubt about which monitor to buy, ask your doctor or pharmacist for guidance.

Checking your own blood pressure

Follow these steps for a DIY blood pressure check:

  1. Don’t smoke, exercise, or drink caffeinated beverages for a half-hour before measuring your blood pressure. Rest quietly for at least five minutes beforehand.

  2. Sit with your back upright and supported; for example, on a straight-backed chair. Keep your feet flat on the floor and legs uncrossed.

  3. Place one arm comfortably on a flat surface, such as a table. Put the blood pressure cuff just above the bend of your elbow.

  4. Check your blood pressure. Relax for one minute. Then check it again.

  5. Repeat at the same time every day.

To manage high blood pressure, reduce salt, lose weight, limit alcohol, and take blood pressure medicine, if needed. Plus, share your home blood pressure readings with your doctor. Having both high blood pressure and diabetes is double motivation to take charge of your health.

Chart your progress

The American Heart Association offers a free online tool you can use to track your blood pressure readings.

 

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