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When Should I Check My Blood Pressure

When Not To Take Blood Pressure

How Often Should I Check My Blood Pressure?

If you are taking your blood pressure too often or not, there are certain times throughout the day you shouldnt take your blood pressure. These situations, listed below, wont hurt you but theres a good chance it will result in a measurement too high or low. These measurements arent false, but they are not what your blood pressure would typically be. When you take your blood pressure too much, those measurements can occur more often. In addition, they may cause you to take it too much throughout the day.

  • Taking your blood pressure in a cold area. Make sure your body is comfortable.
  • When you exercised, ate, drank or smoked within 30 minutes of measuring your pressure.
  • Taking a bath, cold or hot, within 20 minutes of measuring your BP.
  • Performing an activity while you take your measurement. This includes watching TV, texting, walking, standing and talking on the phone.

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What Happens During A Blood Pressure Test

A blood pressure test includes the following steps:

  • You will sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  • You will rest your arm on a table or other surface, so your arm is level with your heart. You may be asked to roll up your sleeve.
  • Your provider will wrap a blood pressure cuff around your arm. A blood pressure cuff is a strap-like device. It should fit snugly around your upper arm, with the bottom edge placed just above your elbow.
  • Your provider will inflate the blood pressure cuff using a small hand pump or by pressing a button on an automated device.
  • Your provider will measure the pressure manually or with an automated device.
  • If manually, he or she will place a stethoscope over the major artery in your upper arm to listen to the blood flow and pulse as the cuff inflates and deflates.
  • If using an automated device, the blood pressure cuff automatically inflates, deflates, and measures pressure.
  • As the blood pressure cuff inflates, you’ll feel it tighten around your arm.
  • Your provider will then open a valve on the cuff to slowly release air from it. As the cuff deflates, blood pressure will fall.
  • As the pressure falls, a measurement is taken when the sound of blood pulsing is first heard. This is the systolic pressure.
  • As the air continues to be let out, the blood pulsing sound will start to go away. When it completely stops, another measurement is taken. This is the diastolic pressure.
  • This test only takes about one minute to complete.

    Can You Take Your Blood Pressure At Home

    Yes, you can take your blood pressure at home. If youve had high readings at your doctors office or experiencing symptoms like blurry vision, lightheadedness or headaches, your doctor may suggest monitoring your blood pressure at home.

    One of the big reasons why is that were trying to rule out what we call white coat hypertension, says Dr. Distel. Thats when its high in the office, but normal at home. So checking at home gives you a lot more information when trying to decide if someone should be on medication or needs to be treated in some way.

    But even if your readings at your doctors office are normal, Dr. Distel suggests taking your blood pressure at home to make sure its still in the safe range.

    Some people can average a higher blood pressure at home, she says. Checking it at home can help to get a better sense of where youre at on average because if you only rely on the blood pressures in the office, thats few and far between and you may be missing out on an opportunity to improve your health.

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    Average Blood Pressure By Age

    As you get older, your blood vessels tend to become stiffer and plaque can build up in them, which can raise your blood pressure. If your blood pressure becomes too high, you’re at a greater risk for heart disease, strokes, and more.

    In 2015, the average blood pressure worldwide was 127/79 mm Hg in men, and 122/77 mm Hg in women, according to a study analysis published in Lancet.

    When researchers for the National Center for Health Statistics looked at average blood pressure in U.S. adults between 2001 and 2008, the average reading was 122/71 mm Hg. The breakout was 124/72 mm Hg for men, and 121/70 mm Hg in women. It rose by age and was significantly higher in Black people.

    The researchers found the following breakdown by age, sex, and race or ethnicity:

    Blood Pressure by Age

    As the population ages and life expectancy increases, high blood pressure is becoming more common.

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    When Should I Check My Blood Pressure at Home?

    Both the AHA and the American Medical Association last year urged widespread home monitoring as a convenient and more superior way of knowing those numbers because it can prevent “white coat hypertension” a common phenomenon where a persons blood pressure spikes the moment he or she enters a doctors office.

    Validated over-the-counter home blood pressure monitors are accurate, easy to use and dont have to cost a lot of money.

    Its most important for people at any age with chronic health conditions such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure to regularly check their numbers at home between doctors appointments, Levine said.

    Younger people who are healthy can benefit, too. She suggested starting to periodically monitor blood pressure at home at age 35.

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    Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About A Blood Pressure Measurement

    If you were diagnosed with high blood pressure, your provider may recommend one or more of the following lifestyle changes.

    • Exercise regularly. Staying active can help lower your blood pressure and also help manage your weight. Most adults should aim for 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Check with your provider before beginning an exercise program.
    • Keep a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing as little as 5 pounds can lower your blood pressure.
    • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetable, and whole grains. Limit foods high in saturated fat and total fat.
    • Reduce salt in your diet. Most adults should have less than 1500 mg of salt per day.
    • Limit alcohol use. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one drink a day if you are a woman two drinks a day if you’re a man.
    • Don’t smoke.

    What Do The Results Mean

    The results from your screening are presented using two numbers, which appear as one over the other. These measure two types of pressure:

  • The pressure in your arteries during a heartbeat
  • The pressure when your heart is resting between beats.
  • If your blood pressure is 140/90 or more then you have high blood pressure. Normal blood pressure sits around 120/80 or lower. 90/60 is too low a blood pressure.

    Some peoples blood pressure sits between normal and high. This is also known as elevated blood pressure or prehypertension. For example, having a blood pressure of 130/85 means you have prehypertension.

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    What Should I Look For A Blood Pressure App For My Phone

    While choosing the best blood pressure monitoring app, you should focus on its features. Always use an app which is easy to use, shows accurate results, shows comprehensive reports and reminds you to take your medicine.

    According to experts, choose the app that shares your report directly with your doctor.

    Additionally, you should choose an app that allows you to download your daily or weekly report.

    The best app should include a health advice feature because, by this feature, you can get notifications of tips and advice from experts.

    Who Should Have A Blood Pressure Check

    Do You Really Need To Check Your Blood Pressure at Home?

    High blood pressure can develop at any age. Over 2.1million adults under 45 had high blood pressure in England in 2015.

    If you are under 40 and you dont know your numbers, its a good idea to have a check, especially if youre carrying extra weight, you smoke, or you have any of the s that mean youre more likely to have high blood pressure.

    High blood pressure becomes more common with age, so if you are over 40, you should at least every five years.

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    Which Arm To Take Blood Pressure

    Left or right? Its a question I hear from many people when discussing which arm to take blood pressure from. The biggest surprise about this question is when I hear it from a nurse or medical assistant at the doctors office. Thats the last question they should be asking me. If youre a return patient, they will know already the answer to that question. If its the first time at a new doctor, the answer is not right or left.

    Which arm to take blood pressure? Which arm to take blood pressure at an initial doctor visit should be both arms. For each subsequent measurement, the arm that recorded the higher blood pressure should be used. Both arms should be measured because a significant difference in BP readings between the right and left arm could signal vascular disease and a greater risk of dying from heart disease.

    So when was the last time your blood pressure was checked in both arms? If your blood pressure is taken in one arm that is lower than the other arm, it can give a false indication that your blood pressure is not high. In addition, you can be misdiagnosed with high or low blood pressure. A 69 year old woman was admitted to the hospital for this reason. Ill tell you her story later. Now you know why Im shocked when a nurse asks me what arm.

    When To Take Your Blood Pressure

    According to the American Heart Association , you may need to monitor your blood pressure at home if you have high blood pressure or if your doctor wants to see a series of blood pressure readings over time to determine if you have hypertension.

    The AHA recommends using a home blood pressure monitor with an automatic cuff that wraps around your upper arm, inflates and deflates and gives you a reading. It’s always a good idea to bring your monitor to an office visit so you can check it against an office reading and make sure you’re using it correctly.

    “We tell patients to take their blood pressure in the morning and the evening at about the same time every day,” says Anupam Kotwal, MD, and endocrinologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. “Eating a meal can give you a temporary elevation in blood pressure, so it is best to test before breakfast and before dinner. You can also measure 30 minutes after eating.”

    What you eat can sometimes affect your blood pressure. “Some people who are salt-sensitive may get a rise in blood pressure from a salty meal,” Dr. Kotwal says. “Drinking coffee or alcohol can also raise blood pressure, but in most cases, it is the act of eating and digesting your food that causes a rise in blood pressure, not the type of food.”

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    What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean

    Blood pressure readings are composed of two numbersfor example, 120/80 mm Hg.

    The top number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The bottom number measures the pressure in your arteries between each heart beat.

    The standard unit of measure, mm Hg, stands for “millimeters of mercury.” Mercury pressure gauges have been replaced with electronic pressure gauges, but the abbreviation is still used.

    How Accurate Is My Blood Pressure Reading

    How often should I check my blood pressure? Part 1 ...

    Some people have what’s called “white coat” syndrome. Their blood pressure goes up due to anxiety about being in the doctor’s office. Other people relax more in a medical setting and have pressure readings that are lower than in their daily lives.

    If a doctor suspects the office readings aren’t representative of your true pressure, he or she may suggest measuring your blood pressure with a home monitor or at a pharmacy or other public site to compare with your office readings. You may also be tested with a monitoring device that you wear for 24 hours. This device will automatically take your blood pressure at various times to get a more accurate average reading.

    Blood pressure varies for most people throughout the day. Pressure in the morning is generally higher, but it can range quite a bit depending on activities, such as exercise or eating stress or excitement or whether you’ve had caffeine or other stimulants. Taking a sampling of pressures during your day can give a better picture than a one-shot reading in the doctors office.

    The American Heart Association recommends people older than 20 with normal blood pressureless than 120/80get their blood pressure checked by their doctor at least every two years. If your pressure is higher, your doctor will likely advise you to have it checked more frequently so it can be kept under control.

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    More People Should Be Measuring Their Blood Pressure At Home For Optimal Health

    Regularly checking your own blood pressure offers an important glimpse into your health and gives you the chance to keep your heart and brain in good shape.

    Yet most older adults who would especially benefit from this habit dont monitor their numbers at home, the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging found. The results, based on a national sample of Americans 50 to 80 years old, were published this month.

    About 60% of people in this age group have had to deal with a stroke, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or hypertension.

    How To Take Your Blood Pressure

    You can take your blood pressure at home using a blood pressure monitor and use the blood pressure calculator as guidance on what your reading means. Ensure the monitor has been clinically validated. Find a list of blood pressure monitors available for home use on the British and Irish Hypertension Society website.

    • Sit quietly and comfortably on a chair with legs uncrossed and feet flat on the ground with an even surface in front of you.
    • Place your arm on the surface in front of you so that it is supported level with your heart. Remove tight clothing and wrap the cuff around your upper arm.
    • Activate the blood pressure monitor, the cuff will inflate to restrict the blood flow in your arm is it gauges your blood pressure. This will last for a short time.
    • As the cuff deflates, your reading is displayed on the monitor. Enter the two numbers into the blood pressure checker to determine the health of your reading.

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    Do I Need To Use A Blood Pressure Checker

    You may not need a blood pressure checker for every reading, but it will help manage blood pressure health. As you become familiar with your readings, using a blood pressure checker will advise how to improve and maintain healthy blood pressure.

    The blood pressure calculator can be accessed via desktop, tablet or mobile.

    If you have questions about taking blood pressure or using the blood pressure checker, contact us. If you are concerned about your reading after using this blood pressure calculator or any other blood pressure checker, seek medical advice.

    Checking Blood Pressure At Home Pays Off

    Is it Time to Have Your Blood Pressure Checked?

    ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

    Do-it-yourselfers, take heart. Heres something else to do at home that can have a substantial benefit on your health: measure your blood pressure. Its easy, inexpensive, and helps control blood pressure better than visits to the doctor.

    The latest evidence for the benefits of home blood pressure monitoring comes from researchers in Minnesota. They studied 450 people with hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure. All had blood pressures higher than deemed healthyabove 140/90, or above 130/80mmHg if they had diabetes or kidney disease.

    About half of the volunteers were given home blood pressure monitors capable of electronically sending readings to a secure website. After being shown how to use their monitors, the volunteers were asked to send six readings each week. That information was assessed by pharmacists, who could adjust medications if needed and offer advice on lifestyle changes that could improve blood pressure. The other volunteers received usual care from their primary care providers.

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    You And Your Medicines

    Important information about your medicines:

    • Know the name of each medicine you take.
    • Carry a list of medicines with you.
    • Know how and when to take each medicine.
    • Know what side effects to report to your doctor or nurse.
    • Tell your doctor or nurse about all of the vitamins, herbs, supplements and pills you take.
    • Never stop taking a medicine without calling your doctor or nurse.

    The Need For Home Monitoring

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure, and half of them dont have it under control. High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death in the United States.

    Even though the American Heart Association and other organizations have called for greater use of home blood pressure monitoring, it isnt yet widespread. One reason is that insurance coverage for such programs still lags. Another is that full-fledged efforts like the one in Minnesota could cost $1,350 per person.

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