What Steps Should I Take While Checking My Blood Pressure At Home
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.
What Are The Different Blood Pressure Categories
Blood pressure can be categorized into five different types, namely:
Normal: Blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg is considered to be normal.
Elevated: When blood pressure readings consistently range from 120 to 129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic, it is known as elevated blood pressure. People with elevated blood pressure are at risk of high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control it.
Hypertension stage I: In this condition, blood pressure readings consistently range from 130 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 mm Hg diastolic. Doctors may prescribe blood pressure medications and some lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke.
Hypertension stage II: In this condition, blood pressure readings consistently range from 140/90 mm Hg or higher. The doctors may prescribe a combination of both medications and lifestyle changes.
Hypertensive crisis: This is the most critical condition and requires emergency medical attention. In this condition, the blood pressure suddenly exceeds 180/120 mm Hg. Contact the physician immediately if the following symptoms are experienced:
- Difficulty speaking
What Do The Readings Mean
As a general guide:
140/90mmHg or over you may have high blood pressureMost doctors use 140/90mmHg as the cut off for point for diagnosing high blood pressure . This is the point where your risk of serious health problems goes up. They might prescribe medications and advise you to make changes to your lifestyle to bring your blood pressure down. 120/80mmHg up to 140/90mmHg pre-high blood pressureAlso called high-normal blood pressure. This is not high blood pressure, but it is a little higher than it should be and means you could go on to develop high blood pressure. See how you can make healthy changes to your lifestyle to lower it. 90/60mmHg up to 120/80mmHg ideal blood pressureAlso called normal blood pressure. Your blood pressure reading is healthy. At this level you have a much lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Following a healthy lifestyle will help you to keep it in the healthy range. 90/60mmHg or lower you may have low blood pressureLow blood pressure usually isnt a problem, but it can sometimes make you feel faint or dizzy or could be a sign of another health problem.;
The video below explains how your blood pressure numbers are linked to the risk of stroke and other disease.
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What Is The Best Treatment For High Blood Pressure
Depending on your high blood pressure, lifestyle changes and/or medications may be helpful in maintaining a healthy and normal blood pressure. Some common lifestyle recommendations include:
Where Can I Learn How To Take My Blood Pressure Myself
In Germany and other countries, people with high blood pressure can attend patient education courses that teach a number of things, including how to measure your blood pressure. As part of specialized disease management programs for people who have narrow coronary arteries , statutory health insurers offer additional healthcare services. These include patient education about high blood pressure. Some doctors practices don’t offer these courses, though.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Why do I need to monitor my blood pressure at home?
- How often do I need to measure my blood pressure?
- What type of monitor should I use?
- What do my blood pressure readings mean?
- What is considered a normal blood pressure for me?
- What should I do if my readings are abnormal?
- Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to help manage my blood pressure?
- Do I need to take medicine to manage my blood pressure?
- What other things can affect a blood pressure reading?
If You Get A High Blood Pressure Reading
- A single high reading is not an immediate cause for alarm. If you get a reading that is slightly or moderately higher than normal, take your blood pressure a few more times and consult your healthcare professional to verify if there s a health concern or whether there may be any issues with your monitor.
- If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and test again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
- If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911.
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What Are The Causes Of High Blood Pressure
Elevated blood pressure increases your risk of chronic high blood pressure as you age. Taking steps to manage your blood pressure helps decrease this risk.
There are also some health conditions that increase your risks of chronic high blood pressure, including obesity and diabetes. Other causes include:
- Genetics/family history
- Lack of exercise
- Alcohol or tobacco abuse
As adults age, their odds of high blood pressure increase, with 90% of Americans forecasted to develop high blood pressure in their lifetimes. Black people tend to develop high blood pressure more often and earlier in life compared to white people. Hispanics, Asians, American Indians, and Pacific Islanders also stand an increased risk of high blood pressure compared to other ethnicities.
Best Position To Take Your Blood Pressure
When it comes to your health, it is important to monitor your blood pressure regularly, whether you do it yourself at home, or have your doctor do it .
When you test your blood pressure, you know if it is too high or too low, and then you can take steps to correct it, or even find out if there is a health issue that is causing the blood pressure problem.
Whether you are testing your blood pressure yourself, or having a doctor do it, there are optimal positions to be in so you get the most accurate readings. Read on to learn more about this.
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How Can I Measure My Blood Pressure At Home
Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.
SMBP means you regularly use a personal blood pressure measurement device away from a doctors office or hospitalusually at home. These blood pressure monitors are easy and safe to use. A health care team member can show you how to use one if you need help.
Evidence shows that people with high blood pressure are more likely to lower their blood pressure if they use SMBP combined with support from their health care team than if they dont use SMBP.3
Use these additional tips for SMBP:4
- Use a blood pressure log pdf icon;to record your blood pressure measurements.
- Take your blood pressure at the same time every day.
- Take at least two readings, 1 or 2 minutes apart.
What Does My Blood Pressure Reading Mean
Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower.;High blood pressure;is 140/90 or higher. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90, you may have something called prehypertension. This means that you are at risk for high blood pressure.
|High blood pressure: Stage 2||160 or higher||100 or over|
*If you have;diabetes;or;kidney;disease, high blood pressure ranges may be lower than for other people. Or, if you are older than 65, goal blood pressure may be higher. Talk to your doctor about what is considered high blood pressure for you.
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Treating High Blood Pressure
Treating high blood pressure includes lifestyle changes and prescription medication for those with readings of 140/90 or higher, according to the AHA.
“The first thing we tell people to do if their blood pressure is in prehypertension range, is to lose weight, exercise more, and reduce salt in diet,” Bauman said. “If they reach higher levels, we then treat them with medications.”
Additional reporting by Kim Ann Zimmermann, Live Science Contributor.
Understanding The Highs And Lows Of Your Blood Pressure Reading
Blood pressure is a key indicator of how well the cardiovascular system is functioning and can signal many diseases and conditions.
It measures the pressure of blood flow to the vascular system. This is necessary for all the organs in the body to receive adequate nutrition and oxygen to function, said Navid Kazemi, MD, cardiologist and chair of MountainView Hospital Cardiac Services Department.
There is a healthy blood pressure range, and having too high or too low blood pressure can cause serious, long-term health consequences. Unfortunately, the importance of healthy blood pressure often is overlooked, and many people with poor blood pressure may not realize theyre at risk.
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Heart Attack And Heart Disease
High blood pressure can damage your arteries by making them less elastic, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and leads to heart disease. In addition, decreased blood flow to the heart can cause:
- Chest pain, also called angina.
- Heart attack, which happens when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle begins to die without enough oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
- Heart failure, a condition that means your heart cant pump enough blood and oxygen to your other organs.
Proper Technique For Blood Pressure Measurement
Is your;blood pressure;being measured correctly? Accurate blood pressure measurements are essential for diagnosing and treating high blood pressure. A specific set of techniques and procedures have been developed for obtaining the most accurate blood pressure readings possible.
But research has shown that medical professionals often do not completely follow these guidelines. It is important for you as a patient to be able to identify when proper protocol is being followed, or not.
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Get With The Guidelines
In 2017, the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and nine other health organizations published revised guidelines for blood pressure.
They were updated “because research suggested that you can have complications from high blood pressure at lower levels than previously thought,” says Laura Andromalos, RD, CDE, nutrition program manager at Northwest Weight and Wellness Center in Everett, Washington, and a certified diabetes educator coach in the telehealth setting for Cecelia Health. “Previously, adults over 65 years old were considered to have high blood pressure at levels over 150/80 mmHg.”
We now know that the ideal of 120/80 lowers the risks for both heart attacks and strokes, according to the American Heart Association. However, each person is unique, so at every age, it’s important to work with your doctor to be sure your numbers fall within a range that is ideal for you and your overall health, Dr. Vaishnava says.
When To Check Blood Pressure
- If your blood pressure is normal , get it checked every year, or more often as your doctor suggests.
- If your blood pressure is elevated — a systolic blood pressure between 120 and 129 or diastolic blood pressure of less than 80 — your doctor will probably want to check it every 3-6 months. They will probably recommend lifestyle changes like more exercise and a better diet.
- If you have stage 1 hypertension — 130-139 over 89-90 — the doctor might suggest lifestyle changes and see you again in 3-6 months. Or they could tell you to make the changes and give you medication, then recheck your condition in a month. It depends on what other health conditions or risk factors you have.
- If you have stage 2 hypertension — 140/90 or higher — youâll likely get medication. You’ll also need to make lifestyle changes and see the doctor again in a month.
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What Is A Healthy Blood Pressure
When the heart is squeezing blood into the arteries, the pressure is high. When the heart is relaxed, the pressure is lower.
Your blood pressure is a measurement taken of the highest reading and the lowest reading . It is given as 2 figures highest over lowest or systolic over diastolic. Blood pressure is measured in mmHg, which refers to millimetres of mercury.
Your blood pressure varies from day to day, even moment to moment. Most doctors would say that a healthy blood pressure is higher than 90/60 mmHg but lower than about 140/90.
What Affects A Blood Pressure Reading
Many things can affect a blood pressure reading, including:
- Nervousness about having your blood pressure taken. This is called white coat syndrome. As many as 1 in 3 people who have a high blood pressure reading at the doctors office may have normal blood pressure readings outside of it.1
- What you ate, drank, or did before your reading. If you smoked, drank alcohol or caffeine, or exercised within 30 minutes of having your blood pressure measured, your reading might be higher.2
- How you are sitting. Crossing your legs and letting your arm droop at your side rather than rest on a table at chest height can make your blood pressure go up.2
Its important to get an accurate blood pressure reading so that you have a clearer picture of your risk for heart disease and stroke.
A reading that says your blood pressure is lower than it actually is may give you a false sense of security about your health. A reading that says your blood pressure is higher than it actually is may lead to treatment you dont need.
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Preventing High Blood Pressure
To keep your blood pressure in the normal range, your daily habits are key. These things help:
Donât smoke. Among the many health problems that smoking causes, it raises your blood pressure.
Make physical activity a habit. Most experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more times a week. Or you could do a harder activity for a shorter period of time per session.
Eat right. Read food labels to see how much sodium is in a serving. Check with your doctor to find out what your daily limit should be. Include a lot of vegetables and fruits, along with whatever else you choose to put on your plate.
Stick to a healthy weight. Extra pounds raise your blood pressure. If youâre not sure what a healthy weight would be for you, ask your doctor.
If you drink alcohol, limit it to no more than one drink a day if youâre a woman and up to two drinks a day if youâre a man.
Multiple Readings Should Be Taken
One blood pressure reading is not enough to get an accurate measurement. While the specifics of how many readings are necessary can change based on many factors, the essential need for multiple measurements does not.
To ensure an accurate reading, your doctor should be checking your blood pressure over time, and watching the how the values change between office visits. More than this, though, he should actually be taking your blood pressure more than once during each office visit.
Because things like temperature and stress can change blood pressure, more than one reading in a single office visit allows the ability to correct for these variations. For example, your blood pressure is often higher at the beginning of an office visit than at the end. Taking a reading at both the beginning and the end gives a more accurate average reading.
Your doctor should be checking your blood pressure:
- In both arms, not just one
- At both the beginning and the end of your appointment
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Where Can I Get My Blood Pressure Checked
You can get your blood pressure measured
- By a health care team member at a doctors office.
- At a pharmacy that has a digital blood pressure measurement machine.
- With a home blood pressure monitor that you can use yourself.
Take this form pdf icon;with you on your first blood pressure visit to record important blood pressure-related information.