Measure and Control Your Heart Health

It’s not always easy to get an appointment with your local family doctor or GP practice and when you do its usually to discuss a problem you are having rather than a health check-up. 

With this in mind it is becoming more important for individuals to take charge of their own health and wellbeing at home by living a healthy lifestyle and monitoring key metrics such as weight, blood pressure, heart rhythm as well as diet, energy levels, stress and sleep patterns.

Active Heart Health is here to help you understand your heart health and how to check for silent killers:

  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
  • Atrial Fibrillation

Blood Pressure

What is a normal blood pressure reading?

Current guidelines for the UK (published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 2019) and Europe (published by the European Society for Cardiology (ESC) in 2018) support the use of home blood pressure monitoring.

They recommend using the average of several readings as being more representative of a person’s blood pressure. Readings should be taken both in the morning and evening with two blood pressure measurements recorded each time, performed 1-2 minutes apart. They also highlight the importance of resting in a quiet room for 5 minutes prior to measuring.

Both guidelines agree a normal blood pressure measured at home and at rest is less than 135 / 85mmHg.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Current guidelines for the UK (NICE 2019) and Europe (ESC 2018) agree a blood pressure measured at rest and at home of 135 / 85mmHg or higher is suggestive of hypertension.

How to measure your blood pressure?

  1. Prepare – Avoid smoking, drinking caffeine/alcohol, taking medications or exercising 30 minutes before measuring.
  2. Rest and relax for at least 5 minutes before measuring blood pressure.
  3. Sit still with back supported, feet flat on floor, legs uncrossed, and arm rested on table.
  4. Use an appropriately sized cuff in correct position (2cm above the elbow joint on left arm). Remove clothing covering location of cuff placement, i.e. roll up sleeve.
  5. Take three measurements at 1-minute intervals and use the average of the last two (Avoid talking during measurements).

When initially checking your blood pressure at home or following an elevated reading obtained at the doctors surgery / health centre:

  • Measure and record your blood pressure twice daily (using an average as mentioned in step 5 above) both in the morning and evening for ideally 7 days.
  • Discard the measurements from the first day and calculate the average of the remaining days.