Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring

What is High Blood Pressure and Why Does it Matter?

  • Blood pressure is important because the higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of health problems in the future. If your blood pressure is high, it is putting extra strain on your arteries and your heart. Over time, this strain can cause the arteries to become thicker and less flexible, or to become weaker. If your arteries become thicker and less flexible, they will become narrower, making them more likely to become clogged up. If an artery becomes completely clogged up (known as a clot), this can lead to a heart attack, stroke, kidney disease or dementia.

The following chart shows the different blood pressure levels:

BP Self Monitoring Chart Picture

Woman Self-MonitoringLifestyle Changes to Help Manage High Blood Pressure

The Importance of Eating a Healthy Diet

Eating a heart-healthy diet is important for managing your blood pressure and reducing your risk of heart attack, stroke and other health threats. If your doctor recommends that you lose weight, there’s a simple rule to follow: move more, eat less, and make smarter food choices.

Aim to eat a diet that's rich in:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole-grains
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Skinless poultry and fish
  • Nuts and legumes


  • Saturated and trans fats
  • Sodium
  • Red meat (if you do eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available)
  • Sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages

A list of heart healthy recipes can be found online at

Limit Sodium (Salt) Intake

  • Most of the sodium we consume is in the form of salt; the vast majority of sodium we consume is from processed and restaurant prepared foods. Your body needs a small amount of sodium to work properly, but too much sodium is bad for your health. Excess sodium can increase your 

Tips to reduce sodium intake:

  • Read food labels
  • Select foods with no more than 400mg of sodium per serving, or foods with no more than 10 percent of daily value of sodium per serving.
  • Avoid foods that have salt listed as one of the first 10 ingredients
  • Eat no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. Most Americans eat more than twice that much each day.

Limiting Alcohol to Reduce Blood Pressure

If you drink, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women. A drink is one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

If you are overweight, even a small amount of weight loss can help to lower your blood pressure. A little weight loss can create a lot of health gains. Did you know you might experience health benefits from losing as few as 10 pounds? Weight loss can help manage or prevent high blood pressure in many overweight people (those with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater).

INHS offers a yearlong program called Group Lifestyle Balance (GLB) that is designed to help participants reach their lifestyle goals by losing weight, increasing physical activity, teaching healthy eating habits, and keeping participants motivated. More information about the program and how to register can be found online at

Exercise Regularly

Physical activity is great for everyone. There are many health benefits caused by increasing physical activity, among them are proven benefits to your heart and circulatory system. One of the best ways to manage high blood pressure is to get plenty of physical activity. For adults, the US Surgeon General recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling every week.

Smoking’s Effect on Blood Pressure

Cigarette smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease.

INHS offers a free 4-week program designed to help individuals have long-term success in quitting tobacco. To learn more about our Tobacco Cessation class, please visit our website

For more information about living a heart healthy lifestyle, watch the following webinar called “A Healthy Start to a Healthy Heart” presented by INHS’s Debbie Belknap, RN, CDE:

View the full Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Toolkit here.

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