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How To Take Your Own Blood Pressure

Choosing A Home Blood Pressure Monitor

How To Take Your Own Blood Pressure

The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep monitor.

  • Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because they yield less reliable readings.
  • Choose a monitor that has been validated. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice or find options at validatebp.org.
  • When selecting a blood pressure monitor for a senior, pregnant woman or child, make sure it is validated for these conditions.
  • Make sure the cuff fits measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.

Keep A Log Of Your Blood Pressure Readings

Keeping a record of your readings is important and allows you to bring them to your doctor on your next visit. Most wrist cuff monitors have a built-in memory or a phone app where they can be stored.

If your monitor doesnt have a memory feature, then keep a written record. Whichever way you track your readings, I suggest you bring the monitor with you on your next doctor visit so you can follow step #11.

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How To Take Your Own Blood Pressure Using A Battery

Digital blood pressure machines are nearly as accurate as air-driven ones. If you are using a digital blood pressure device, follow these instructions. Note that a digital blood pressure device should be checked for accuracy every 6 months, comparing results with your doctor’s mercury-driven machine.

1. Apply the blood pressure cuff snugly onto your upper arm about one inch above the crease in the bend of your arm. Velcro closure may be released and reset to tighten cuff as needed.
2. Sit quietly with your arm straight, palm up and your elbow resting in a relaxed position on the table. Your upper arm should be about the same level as your heart.
3. Turn on the machine by pressing the “ON” button. Wait for the blinking heart to appear in the read-out screen, then press the “START” button.
4. The cuff will tighten, then slowly release. In less than 60 seconds, your digital blood pressure reading will appear in the read-out screen.
5. Your pulse rate will also appear in the read-out screen.
6. Record reading as outlined in steps 5 and 6 above.

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Automated Blood Pressure Machines

The easiest and most accurate way to measure the blood pressure at home is to buy an automated blood pressure monitor with an upper arm cuff.

The instructions for use may vary with each machine, and a person should follow them carefully to ensure proper operation. If the instructions are difficult to understand, a local pharmacy or doctors office will be able to show a person how to operate the machine correctly.

Doctors may ask a person to bring their at-home machine to the office during their next visit to test the accuracy compared to the doctors reading.

Using a high-quality machine is important, as inaccurate readings may cause unnecessary or harmful changes in medications or treatments.

A variety of blood pressure monitors are available for purchase online and in most drug stores. A person may wish to speak to a doctor about which brand they recommend.

There are apps and wrist devices that claim to measure the blood pressure, but these results are frequently inaccurate and are not a reliable way to monitor a persons health.

Apps that log blood pressure results may be helpful for people who need to take regular blood pressure tests, however.

Recording a set of readings into these apps may help doctors identify trends in blood pressure and recommend treatments.

Buying And Maintaining A Monitor

How to take your own Blood Pressure

When you first get a blood pressure device, check its accuracy. Do this by comparing its readings with those you get at the doctorâs office. Ask your doctor or nurse to watch you use your device to make sure that you are doing it right and that it works right. Itâs a good idea to have your device checked every year at the doctorâs office.

The size of the blood pressure cuff and where you place it can greatly affect how accurate your device is. If the cuff is too small or too large, the results wonât be right. You may have to measure your arm and choose a monitor that comes in the right size.

A monitor that measures blood pressure in your arm is recommended for most people. Blood pressure monitors used on the wrist arenât as reliable as those that use arm cuffs. Wrist monitors should be used only by people who canât use arm cuffs for physical reasons. And devices that use finger monitors arenât recommended at all.footnote 1

Check your blood pressure cuff often. Make sure all of the parts of your monitor are in good condition. Even a small hole or crack in the tubing can lead to inaccurate results.

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Home Monitoring And Blood Pressure Goals

Home blood pressure monitoring can help guide your treatment by showing whether your medicines are working or if you need to take a different approach. A study published in March 2013 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that people who monitored their blood pressure at home were more likely to reach their blood pressure goals than those who were monitored only by their doctor.

Anyone who has high blood pressure, or is at risk for it, can benefit from home blood pressure monitoring, especially women with diabetes or kidney disease. You might also want to consider taking your blood pressure at home if your levels tend to fluctuate. Getting an accurate accounting of the variations will help your doctor better treat your blood pressure.

Women with symptoms such as dizziness or headaches can also take regular readings “to see if their symptoms correlate to their blood pressure,” Dr. Zusman says.

Some conditions can make it harder to take your own blood pressureparticularly if you have an irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation. If this is uncontrolled, you may not be able to get an accurate reading with a home blood pressure monitor. Even if your arrhythmia is controlled, you may need to take your blood pressure several times in a row for accuracy.

If you’re interested in home blood pressure monitoring, here’s how to get started.

What Equipment Do I Need To Measure My Blood Pressure At Home

To measure your blood pressure at home, you can use either an aneroid monitor or digital monitor. Choose the type of monitor that best meets your needs. Look at the following features when you select a monitor.

  • Size: The right cuff size is very important. The cuff size you need is based on the size of your arm. You can ask the doctor, nurse, orpharmacist to help you. Blood pressure readings can be wrong if your cuff is the wrong size.
  • Price: Cost may be a key factor. Home blood pressure units vary in price. You may want to shop around to find the best deal. Keep in mind that pricey units may not be the best or most accurate.
  • Display: The numbers on the monitor should be easy for you to read.
  • Sound: You must be able to hear your heartbeat through the stethoscope.

Tests show that finger and wrist devices do not always provide correct measurements. These devices are sensitive to placement and body temperature. They also are expensive and can cost more than $100.

Aneroid monitor

The aneroid monitor manually checks your blood pressure. It has a gauge that you read by looking at a pointer on the dial. The cuff goes around your upper arm and you squeeze a rubber bulb to inflate it by hand.

Digital monitor

Inflation of the cuff is either automatic or manual, depending on the model. Deflation is automatic. Digital monitors are good for hearing-impaired patients, since there is no need to listen to your heartbeat through the stethoscope.

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How Do Health Care Professionals Measure My Blood Pressure

First, a health care professional wraps an inflatable cuff around your arm. The health care professional then inflates the cuff, which gently tightens on your arm. The cuff has a gauge on it that will measure your blood pressure.

The health care professional will slowly let air out of the cuff while listening to your pulse with a stethoscope and watching the gauge. This process is quick and painless. If using a digital or automatic blood pressure cuff, the health care professional will not need to use a stethoscope.

The gauge uses a unit of measurement called millimeters of mercury to measure the pressure in your blood vessels.

If you have high blood pressure, talk to your health care team about steps to take to control your blood pressure to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Use this list of questions to ask your health care team pdf icon to help you manage your blood pressure.

What Steps Should I Take While Checking My Blood Pressure At Home

How to take your own manual blood pressure

Before taking your blood pressure

  • Find a quiet place.
  • Check to be sure you have the correct size cuff. If you are not sure, or if you have questions, talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Roll up the sleeve on your left arm or remove any tight-sleeved clothing, if needed.
  • Rest in a chair next to a table for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Sit up straight with your back against the chair, legs uncrossed and on the ground.
  • Rest your forearm on the table with the palm of your hand facing up.
  • You should not talk, read the newspaper, or watch television during this process.

Taking your blood pressure

If you buy a manual or digital blood pressure monitor , follow the instruction booklet carefully.

Record your blood pressure

If you have been asked to record your blood pressure and bring your readings to the office, please write down the date, time of day, systolic and diastolic numbers, heart rate, and which arm you took the reading on. If you are taking part in a program that has remote monitoring, your blood pressure readings are automatically shared with your medical provider. If you are unsure, please ask your provider.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/23/2018.

References

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What If I Dont Have Equipment

You dont need a blood pressure cuff to take your resting heart rate, which is another measurement that helps indicate heart health. Digital monitors usually display both blood pressure and heart rate, but you can determine the latter on your own by checking your pulse by hand. Your pulse is how many times your heart pumps per minute.

First, locate the artery below the thumb on the inside of your wrist and place two fingers there. Count how many times you feel your heartbeat over a 15-second period, and then multiply your count by four to get your resting heart rate.

When youre checking pulse by hand, youre looking for more than just a number. Youre also checking for a regular rhythm, which indicates a strong pulse.

How Can I Check My Blood Pressure At Home Using

But you dont need to go to your doctor just to get a blood pressure reading. The easiest way to monitor your own blood pressure at home is to get a machine that has a blood pressure calculator and digital display.

Purchase a blood pressure monitor cuff that wraps around the upper arm. The cuff should fit well, and not be too loose or too tight when not in use. Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because the readings arent as reliable. When choosing a blood pressure monitor, take it to your doctors office. They may be able to show you how to use it properly and check whether the machine provides accurate readings.

Here are some tips to follow while measuring your blood pressure at home:

  • Before measuring your blood pressure, sit quietly for 5 minutes with your arm relaxed on a supporting surface at the level of your heart.
  • Your back should be supported and both feet should be flat on the floor.
  • The cuff should be positioned on your upper arm as instructed on the guide that came with the monitor. It is easier to use your non-dominant arm .
  • Avoid caffeine, smoking, or exercise at least 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Do not take a reading if stressed or angry.

Blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association are as follows:

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Are There Differences Between Taking A Blood Pressure Reading On The Right Arm Vs Left Arm

Blood pressure measurement values vary from the left arm to the right arm. The average is generally within 10 mmHg for most individuals. Omron home blood pressure monitors are generally designed for use on the left arm as they are validated through clinical studies using the left arm. You should talk to your doctor before using the right arm to take a measurement.

How To Use A Blood Pressure Monitor

How to Take Your Own Blood Pressure

The British Heart Foundation has informative advice and self-help video to guide you through taking your own blood pressure. Follow the simple steps below to have the best chance at an accurate reading.

1: In order for it to be an accurate reading its important that youre resting and that youre not feeling anxious or stressed.

2: Sit upright in a chair, your back against the back of the chair, and place your feet flat on the floor.

3: Rest your arm on a table if you have one and just make sure your hand and arm are relaxed on the table. Its important that you dont clench your fist when youre taking your blood pressure.

4: Place the cuff over your upper arm and tighten the cuff over your arm, making sure you can fit two fingers underneath the cuff. You want the cuff to be over the upper part of your arm with the tubing leading down the centre or slightly to the right of your arm.

5: When you check your blood pressure, dont talk and just relax. Press the on button, and then press the start button.

6: Youll feel the cuff inflate quite rapidly. It may temporarily be a bit tender or uncomfortable for, as the cuff inflates and deflates automatically, but this will only be for a short period of time. If it is too tender/uncomfortable you can just press the Stop button and the cuff will instantly deflate.

7: Once you get your reading, make a note of the reading. Some blood pressure machines now come with a printer. This allows you to stick your print outs in your diary.

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How To Accurately Measure Blood Pressure At Home

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High blood pressure is one of the top risk factors for heart attack and stroke. It’s also common among people who develop severe COVID-19 symptoms.

So, with more people at home practicing social distancing and with fewer chances to check blood pressure at public pharmacy machines or doctor visits, it’s more important than ever to know how to do it at home.

How do I select a home blood pressure monitor?

“The readings you get at home are really important, because they reflect the pressure your heart is facing on a day-to-day basis,” said Dr. Michael Hochman, a doctor of internal medicine at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California.

A list of validated home monitors, the first in the United States and commissioned to meet the American Medical Association’s criteria, is available at validateBP.org. The Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, the British Hypertension Society and the European Society of Hypertension also certify devices.

The device should measure blood pressure on the upper arm, which produce a more reliable result than those that measure from the wrist.

Many devices are automated. Simply put on the cuff and press a button. The results are displayed digitally.

Some will store readings, calculate an average blood pressure over time, or even transmit them to your doctor.

Your health care provider should check the device about once a year to ensure its accuracy.

How do I get the most accurate measurement?

How Do I Take My Bp

You can take your BP at home with a digital BP monitor. Read the instructions that came with your BP monitor. The monitor comes with an adjustable cuff. Ask your healthcare provider if your cuff is the correct size.

  • Do not eat, drink, smoke, or exercise for 30 minutes before you take your BP.
  • Rest quietly for 5 minutes before you take your BP.
  • Sit with your feet flat on the floor and your back against a chair.
  • Extend your arm and support it on a flat surface. Your arm should be at the same level as your heart.
  • Make sure all of the air is out of the cuff. Place the BP cuff against your bare skin about 1 inch above your elbow. Wrap the cuff snugly around your arm. The BP reading may not be correct if the cuff is too loose.
  • If you are using a wrist cuff, wrap the cuff snugly around your wrist. Hold your wrist at the same level as your heart.
  • Turn on the BP monitor and follow the directions.
  • Write down your BP, the date, the time, and which arm you used to take the BP. Take your BP 2 times and write down both readings. Use the same arm each time. These BP readings can be 1 minute apart.

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Tips To Measure Your Blood Pressure Correctly

To determine whether you have hypertension, a medical professional will take a blood pressure reading. How you prepare for the test, the position of your arm, and other factors can change a blood pressure reading by 10% or more. That could be enough to hide high blood pressure, start you on a drug you don’t really need, or lead your doctor to incorrectly adjust your medications.

National and international guidelines offer specific instructions for measuring blood pressure. If a doctor, nurse, or medical assistant isn’t doing it right, don’t hesitate to ask him or her to get with the guidelines.

Here’s what you can do to ensure a correct reading:

Don’t drink a caffeinated beverage or smoke during the 30 minutes before the test.

Sit quietly for five minutes before the test begins.

During the measurement, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor and your arm supported so your elbow is at about heart level.

The inflatable part of the cuff should completely cover at least 80% of your upper arm, and the cuff should be placed on bare skin, not over a shirt.

Don’t talk during the measurement.

Have your blood pressure measured twice, with a brief break in between. If the readings are different by 5 points or more, have it done a third time.

For more on getting your blood pressure under control, buy Controlling Your Blood Pressure, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

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