This article was last updated on March 2, 2022.
If you struggle with high blood pressure, who has the ultimate responsibility for keeping it under control? Is it you or your doctor? The answer may be surprising.
Partner with your doctor for the best outcome
Let's look at a typical appointment between a doctor and patient with high blood pressure. An office visit typically takes place every three months. And, that appointment can make a huge impact on your health and the amount of medication you take in the upcoming months.
How can you partner with your doctor to make sure this appointment is helpful and valuable for making decisions about your care?
For starters, consider performing your own blood pressure readings. It's relatively inexpensive to buy an automated blood pressure monitor, and upper arm cuffs are available at your local pharmacy or drug store. Plus, a blood pressure monitor is an eligible expense if you have a flexible spending account or health savings account.
Tips for performing your own blood pressure reading
Dr. Barbara Muller, a medical director at Wellmark, provides tips for do-it-yourself blood pressure readings.
- Avoid wrist cuffs. Wrist cuffs will prevent you from receiving an accurate reading. Instead, use an upper arm cuff for an accurate reading.
- Buy an arm cuff that fits. Look for a cuff that has the recommended blood pressure levels printed right on it, and make sure it fits comfortably. If the cuff is either too tight or loose, you may get an inaccurate reading.
- Ask for help. Your provider or your provider's office should be able to help you check the cuff's accuracy and give you "safety ranges." These ranges will help you know when you should contact them if you have a reading that's too high or too low.
- Keep record. Jot down all your readings in a journal and compare either daily, weekly or after a doctor's visit.
You may find your at-home blood pressure readings interesting. Some people have "white coat hypertension," a condition where the readings in the doctor's office are much higher than at other times throughout your day. This condition is due to the stress or anxiety that can accompany a doctor's office visit — which is why readings you perform at home may be more accurate.
Do you have a trusted relationship with your doctor? Research shows this relationship is important to healthy outcomes. If you don't have a doctor you can trust, find an in-network provider in your area by logging in to myWellmark.