One of the most common medical conditions we have in the present day is High Blood Pressure. Otherwise known as hypertension, this disease is known as the silent killer as most people who suffer from it don't even known they have it. According to the American Heart Association high blood pressure causes more than 55,000 deaths a year in the United States alone. The World Health Organisation estimates that it kills 7 million people worldwide.

Many risk factors and conditions can cause high blood pressure. In many cases the cause remains unknown. If the cause is recognised it is called secondary hypertension. If the cause remains unknown it is called essential hypertension. If left uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, Strokes and kidney failure.

Some of the more common causes are:


Drugs such as Amphetamines







A combination of the above.

The only way to be certain that you are not suffering from high blood pressure is to have it checked. The easiest way to keep a regular check of you blood pressure is by using a blood pressure monitor. Although using a monitor is extremely useful, always remember that it is a guide, it is not a substitute for a health care professional. Have a chat with your doctor to see when and where would give the best benefit for you. If you know that you suffer from high blood pressure it is vital to have one at home. By taking readings at regular times you can monitor and control your blood pressure. With the help of exercise, the right foods and the right mindset the monitor can keep your blood pressure at an acceptable level. Better still it will help in lowering it. It also becomes very useful when there is more than one person in the household over 40. Then there are the travelling to the doctors and associated costs which can be saved. Even if you do not suffer from high blood pressure, if you are over 40 years of age it would be prudent to have one just as a safe guard. Remember 3 out of 4 people don't even know they have high blood pressure !

By self monitoring you can control your blood pressure, and bring it down if necessary. By taking a reading every time you check, it will help your doctor to diagnose for you. Most modern monitors are digital, they are battery run and compact, and can measure from your arm, wrist or finger. The blood pressure association advise using the arm measurement as this is more accurate. Your blood pressure monitor should be clinically calibrated, and every 12 – 24 months it should be returned to the manufacturer for re-calibration. This is important as over time your monitor could give incorrect readings. Also a clinically calibrated or validated monitor will provide more accurate readings that you and your doctor can trust.

Blood pressure monitors can be divided into two main groups. Automatic and manual. Don't get the manual type as this requires two people to operate it. To undertake self monitoring you will need an automatic model, this may be a little more expensive but you really have no choice. Think carefully about the monitor you want. By choosing the right model for you, self monitor will become a simple process without any worry or stress. The last thing you need is to get uptight and anxious every time you try and take a blood pressure reading. It simply defeats the object. 

When deciding what blood pressure monitor to use it can be a nightmare, there are an array of models and types to choose from. It is advisable not to purchase something at the cheap end of the market, after all we are dealing with your health and the health of your family. Some of the better quality models are Microlife, Omron, A & D monitors and Braun. The technology involved in these monitors have increased in sophistication and accuracy over the years, to the extent that they are now used in  doctors surgeries. Think about what type of monitor would suit you. An upper arm blood pressure monitor comes with a 'cuff' that you wrap around your arm. These 'cuffs' come in various sizes, small, medium and large. To prevent incorrect readings make certain that you select the right size. Unfortunately the majority of blood pressure monitors supply the medium size as standard, so if this feels wrong for you contact the supplier and exchange it for a different size. Ask you doctor for advice.

Once you start using your monitor you should check your blood pressure on a regular basis, preferably in the same place at the same time. Most people check their blood pressure last thing in the evening or first thing in the morning. Blood pressure goes up and down during the night and day, so its best not to take too many readings as it could give false impression and cause you unnecessary worry.

To obtain accurate readings you should follow some simple guidelines. Sit down, prepare the monitor for use and relax for approx five minutes. Wear loose clothing so that you can easily roll up your sleeve. Never take a reading within 30 minutes of drinking coffee, smoking or having a large meal, and make sure that your bladder is empty. Do not attempt to take a reading if you have exercised, are anxious, excited or feel ill and unwell. Always use the same arm and keep it supported at the same level as your heart. Following the instruction supplied with the monitor put the 'cuff' on. Remain calm and stay comfortable otherwise the readings could be affected. Take three readings about two minutes apart, then work out the average. It is wise to record all reading in a book. Do not try and commit to memory, this never works and all your time and money spent on the monitor will be wasted. If your readings are consistently 140/90 that's 140 over 90 consult your doctor immediately. By investing in a blood pressure monitor you are investing in your health.