It's a great idea to have a full health check-up at least once a year of our blood cholesterol level, blood pressure and blood sugar readings, as the health issues associated with levels that are too high/low levels, such as hypertension and diabetes, often have no symptoms to begin with, making it difficult to detect them.
If you are not aware of any existing health issues, I strongly advice that you book yourself in with the GP or your local pharmacist for a health check. Explain to them that you are looking to improve your general health and welling and be sure to inform them of any family history of diabetes, hypertension, heart problems, stroke etc.
If you are already aware of an issue with one or more of these readings, it’s likely that your GP may have already given you a device to use at home to keep a check on it. This could be a cholesterol monitor, glucose monitor or an electronic blood pressure machine.
You can buy monitors online and in the shops to keep a check on these numbers if you wish. I would recommend a blood pressure monitor as these are a one-off expense, whereas the blood glucose and cholesterol monitors require refills of test trips and needles which can be costly and also need to be disposed of safely! Of course, if the GP provides you with your own monitor(s) as a result of a diagnosed health issue, then any required refills are available on repeat prescription and the needle collection service is available on the NHS.
Blood Pressure Monitoring at Home
Your blood pressure is easy to monitor at home with electronic monitors. The reading consists of two numbers. The first number is larger, this is referred to as your systolic blood pressure. This is the pressure of your heart pumping blood out. The second, smaller number is your diastolic blood pressure, which is the pressure of your heart resting. Your blood pressure will therefore be presented to you in the format of “120/80” for example, with 120 being the systolic and 80 being the diastolic.
A home monitor, such as an Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor from the Kinetik Wellbeing range costs around £39.99 and really is worth the investment, having our own blood pressure monitor has proven life saving for our family. The pulse reading was enough to tip us off that my dad required a pacemaker and during my pregnancy, the monitor alerted me to tachycardia and later, the onset of pre-eclampsia.
It's a good idea to check that whichever monitor you buy has a cuff which will fit your arm comfortably, as a cuff which is too large or small will throw off the accuracy of the reading. Some models such as the Kinetik BPX1 (pictured above), have a universal cuff which will fit size 20cm - 42cm.
What I love about this particular monitor is the colour coded strip down the left hand side to indicate whether the reading is high, low or within the recommended range. It's also far smaller and more compact than many other monitors on the market and it begins taking a reading while it inflates, so that you don't have to suffer that squeezing tingling sensation for ages while the monitor takes a reading.
Health Assessment Workbook
For more information on blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels, including the ideal ranges, you can download my printable Health Assessment Workbook (priced at just £1.75 for newsletter subscribers or £3.50). This workbook will encourage you to view your health as far more than the number you see on the scale, instead you will focus on your body composition and general health and will be guided through the process of calculating how much you really need to be eating in order to meet your goals.