Timothy West, 86, is a British actor who's seen his career go up and up and up, from his first role in 1959 through last year's appearance on the BBC's "Dad's Army: The Lost Episodes." Unfortunately, so did his blood pressure!

Around 1990, he was gobsmacked (as they say in England) to learn he had dangerously high BP. Since then he's been conscientious about keeping it under control. West says, "The most important part of my regime is a small portable blood pressure monitor."

He sure is right — and not just for folks taking BP meds! A study published in the journal Hypertension reveals that half of American adults should be monitoring their BP at home. That's because 93% of you have higher readings when pressure is taken in the doc's office than when taken at home. For others, at-home readings are indicative of prehypertension or hypertension, while in-office readings are normal.

So get an at-home monitor (check health.clevelandclinic.org for "Buying a Home Blood Pressure Monitor") and

Sit quietly in a chair with both feet on the floor for five minutes. To test, rest your arm on a flat surface, elbow around heart level. No talking.

Do it twice, 60 seconds apart; average the readings. Also check both arms. Let your doc know your results.

A reading of 115/75 is ideal for slowing your rate of aging. Don't accept anything above 120/85. Get help to achieve the ideal!

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