How to Measure Blood Pressure Correctly at Home
Blood pressure monitoring is essential not only for people who have been diagnosed with hypertension but also for healthy adults in order to provide early detection of cardiovascular diseases. Regular blood pressure checks will help you make a timely visit to the doctor and avoid serious complications.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), an optimal blood pressure level is less than 140/90 mmHg.
Preparing for a Home Blood Pressure Testing
- find a quiet place
- be sure to check your BP two hours after eating
- avoid caffeine, energy drinks, and smoking for at least 30 minutes before blood pressure measurement
- use the restroom if needed, a full bladder or bowel put additional pressure on the abdomen
- remove tight-fitting clothing from the upper arm (or tight rolled up sleeve)
- sit quietly for 5 minutes
Which Arm Should Blood Pressure Be Taken?
The first measurement should be measured in both arms three times. Subsequently, use the arm with the higher readings.
Talk with your health care provider about how often you should have your blood pressure taken or when to start self-measurement of BP.
The Right Way To Measure Blood Pressure
- Follow your blood pressure monitor's instructions. Place the cuff around your arm as described in the instructions. Make sure it is not too tight or too loose. You should be able to fit your finger between the cuff and your arm.
- Place your feet flat on the floor. Do not cross your legs.
- Lean against the back of the chair, and avoid muscle tension. Place your arm on a firm surface, and do not let the elbow hang down.
- The cuff should be at the level of the heart. Keep your arm and hand relaxed, not tensed.
- Try not to talk while taking your blood pressure.
- Take two or three measurements 1–2 minutes apart. Write down the average blood pressure.
- Measure your blood pressure in the morning and in the evening for 7 days before your doctor's appointment. Check your BP before you take the medication. Be sure to keep a record of your measurements. Long-term monitoring of blood pressure may require taking 2 readings at the set time once or twice a week. You can log your blood pressure using a blood pressure tracking app. When used correctly, it will show how your blood pressure changes throughout the day. Also, this information will be useful during your annual checkup and help your doctor evaluate your health.
Don't worry if your blood pressure is higher than normal. Repeat the measurement after a five-minute rest period. If it is still high, check your blood pressure again another day. If it remains high for a long time (more than two or three weeks), you should see your doctor.