According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease accounts for 1 in every 4 deaths in the United States, making it the leading cause of death both for men and women. With the prevalence of such disease comes the great need to develop more effective strategies for the monitoring and treatment of heart disease.
Good thing today's more updated technology provides patients and healthcare providers a lot of opportunities to effectively keep track of one's health, even at the comforts of their homes. Knowing your body and keeping track of your symptoms will not only help determine the status of your condition but will also help keep you out of the hospital in the long run.
Some of the health parameters you can easily monitor at home by yourself are your blood pressure, heart rate, and weight. They may look like just simple checks, but they actually remind you when there's something wrong with your body.
- Pulse and heart rate
When checking your pulse and heart rate, use your index and third fingers to take your pulse in your wrist area. Then, count the number of beats for about 30 seconds and double that number to get your pulse.
Weighing yourself will help determine if there is too much fluid building up in your body. This should help you learn to limit your fluids as well as your salt intake to return to your body's normal state. When checking your weight, do so every morning the moment you get up using the same scale. Also check your weight before you have a meal and after you use the bathroom. Make sure to record your weight every day to help you and your doctor keep track.
If you notice your weight going up by more than 3 pounds in a day, give your healthcare provider a call.
- Blood pressure
The American Heart Association strongly recommends home monitoring of blood pressure for people with hypertension to help doctors determine the effectiveness of treatments. There are various home blood pressure monitors that you can easily purchase, but before doing so, make sure to choose one that has been validated. Since you will monitor blood pressure using an NIBP cuff, get a cuff with your correct size to promote more accurate readings.
Once you have a monitor of your own, bring it on your next doctor's appointment so your provider can check whether you are using it correctly and to make sure that it shows correct readings.
- Heart activity
Checking on your heart's electric activity is now possible to perform at home through the use of a Holter monitor. This portable device can measure and record heart activity continuously for 24 to 48 hours or more depending on the type of monitoring preferred. Think of it as a portable ECG monitor, which is usually recommended to patients who have fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat. Your doctor can also suggest this to check how well your medications are working.
Sometimes, an ECG test or a Holter monitor cannot record when heart disease symptoms appear. During this event, your doctor may recommend using a Cardiac Event Recorder, which can be worn continuously for about two to four weeks. This recording device, which is just the size of a deck of cards, can be activated once the patient is experiencing symptoms. The device will then record the incident in its internal memory.
Self-monitoring has been strongly advocated for a good reason. After all, the adage prevention is better than cure has not been popular for nothing. By taking note of these home monitoring essentials for heart disease, you will not only help prevent symptoms to happen, but you will also stay on top of your health.