Monitoring blood pressure for diabetes

How often should I have my blood pressure checked?

Your blood pressure will be checked at least once a year at your annual review. If you have high blood pressure, you will probably have frequent checks, for example, every 1-4 weeks. Once stable, your blood pressure will be checked every 3-6 months.

How will my blood pressure be measured?

Your health professional will wrap a cuff around your upper arm and inflate it until it is tight enough to prevent blood from flowing to your lower arm. The cuff is then slowly deflated and your blood pressure is measured by the electronic device or by your health professional listening to the blood flow in your arm with a stethoscope. The two figures in your blood pressure measurement refer, firstly, to the pressure in your blood vessel as your heart contracts (systolic blood pressure) and, secondly, to when your heart is relaxed (diastolic blood pressure).

I am always anxious when I visit my clinic – will that raise my blood pressure?

Your blood pressure goes up and down depending on the time of the day and your stress levels. If you feel anxious about seeing your doctor, your blood pressure rises. This is why your blood pressure may be checked two or three times – or for 24 hours – before you are diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Can I measure my blood pressure at home?

Yes, but before buying your own monitor, talk to your doctor, who may give you useful information or be able to loan you a monitor if you need one just for a short time.

If I want to monitor my own blood pressure, how often should I do?

How often you check your blood pressure depends on what you want to know. For example, if you want to find out how a stressful situation affects your blood pressure, take “before and after” readings. If you simply want to know whether your blood pressure is in the recommended range, take readings several times a day for a few days to establish what is normal for you. After this, checking your blood pressure occasionally, for example, once or twice a week, will be enough.

How do I use my electronic monitor?

Your monitor will contain specific instructions on how to use it – the exact position of the cuff or your arm varies from monitor to monitor. Once you start the monitor, the cuff will automatically inflate and deflate and then the monitor will give you a reading of your blood pressure. Sitting down for 5-10 minutes before you measure your blood pressure will increase the accuracy of the reading.

What do I do if I get readings that seem to be higher than my recommended range?

Occasional high readings can be due to stress or life events such as a busy day or pressure at work, but if you are regularly having high readings, you may need to have your treatment started, or reviewed and changed. With Type 2 diabetes, you may need three or more different types of pills to control your blood pressure. Other factors that can raise your blood pressure are eating a lot of salt and being very inactive. Tackling any of these factors can help lower your blood pressure – for example, you could regularly do relaxation exercises, you could increase your activity levels, or you could prepare more meals yourself instead of eating processed food.

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