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When Should You Take Your Blood Pressure

Who Is Affected By High Blood Pressure

How to Take Your Blood Pressure at Home

Approximately 1 in 3, more than 100 million, American adults have high blood pressure. But only half of those people have their condition under control. Many people develop high blood pressure when they are in their late 30s or early 40s, and it occurs more frequently as people age. However, because of the obesity epidemic, more and more children are also developing high blood pressure.

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.

At Home With A Monitor

Home monitoring can be a great way to keep track of your blood pressure on a daily basis.

With home monitoring, you can check your blood pressure throughout the day and at times that are convenient for you. It can help you see how your blood pressure changes throughout the day and help you get a sense of your average blood pressure range.

However, youll need to purchase a blood pressure monitor to do this. Youll also need to learn how to use it and how to record accurate readings.

Its not complicated to learn the basics of many home monitors, but it can still be easy to make a mistake.

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Know The Possible Side Effects Of Your High Blood Pressure Drugs

8 Tips to Correctly Take Your Blood Pressure at Home

Each type of high blood pressure drug has possible side effects. Some side effects may be temporary some may be more lasting. Some side effects are bothersome some may be potentially dangerous. Ask your doctor or pharmacist these questions about each of your medications:

  • What side effects might occur? Which are common and which are rare?
  • What should I do if I notice side effects?
  • Are there medicines, food, or beverages that can interact with this drug?
  • What are serious side effects that I need to be aware of?

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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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Blood Pressure And Salt

Eat Less Salt

You can lower your blood pressure by losing weight or eating less salt, also called sodium. As part of a healthy eating pattern, the goal is less than 2,300 mg of sodium per dayabout 1 teaspoon of salt. Ideal amount is less than 1,500 mg per day, especially if you have high blood pressure, are age 50 or older, or African American.

As you eat less salt, your taste will adjust to the lower levels. It may take time to reach your goal but cutting your daily salt intake by 1/2 teaspoon can improve your blood pressure and your heart health.

Most people get most of their sodium from packaged and restaurant foods.

How To Measure Your Blood Pressure At Home Using A Home Monitor

How To Take Blood Pressure Correctly
  • Follow the instructions that came with your monitor. Make sure you place the cuff around your arm as described in the instructions.
  • Place the arm cuff just above your elbow. The cuff should be about 2cm above your elbow to make sure it can detect the artery in your arm, just under the skin.
  • Keep still and quietwhile you take your reading. Moving, chewing, talking and laughing can affect your reading. Make sure you don’t cross your legs, as this will raise your reading too.
  • Take two or three readings, each about one to two minutes apart. If your first reading is much higher than the next, ignore it and take an extra reading. Once you have two to three readings, you can work out the average.
  • Keep a record of your measurements. Record all your readings in the memory of your monitor, on your computer or phone or on paper whichever you prefer. Write them down exactly as they appear on screen.
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    Exercise For People With Low Blood Pressure

    Also check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program if you have low blood pressure . Exercise especially exercise that involves sudden changes in posture can trigger symptoms, including dizziness, blurred vision, and nausea.

    That doesnt mean you shouldnt exercise if you have low blood pressure. In fact, exercise can also be beneficial in treating hypotension, as it helps improve blood circulation.

    If you have low blood pressure, opt for moderate activities that dont involve bending and rising quickly to an upright position.

    A spike or drop in blood pressure during exercise can be a sign of a medical condition.

    Exercise For People At Risk For Or With High Blood Pressure

    Its safe to exercise if youre at risk for high blood pressure or with high blood pressure . In fact, regular exercise can help you keep your blood pressure in check.

    If youre at risk for or have hypertension, speak to your doctor about the safest way to exercise. This may involve:

    • choosing moderate activities
    • working up to daily exercise

    If youre concerned about your blood pressure, you can monitor it before, during, and after your workout.

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    How To Take & Record Blood Pressure

    • Wait for at least 30 minutes after drinking alcohol or caffeine, smoking or exercise before you take a reading.
    • Rest for at least 5 minutes before you take a reading.
    • Sit with your legs uncrossed, your back supported and your feet on the floor.
    • Rest your arm at heart level on a table.
    • Measure your blood pressure in both arms the first time you use a monitor.
    • Use the arm with the highest reading to take future readings.
    • Take your blood pressure twice a day for 7 days. Take 2-3 readings in the morning before taking your medicines, and in the evening. Each reading should be 2 minutes apart.
    • Use a log to record your readings or print the numbers stored in your monitor.
    • Always take your log or bring your monitor with stored readings to show your doctor or nurse.

    Take Your High Blood Pressure Drugs Exactly As Prescribed

    Doctors: Home blood pressure monitors can help

    High blood pressure drugs work best if you take them as your doctor has prescribed them. So you need to take the right amount at the right times every day. Ask your doctor or pharmacist these questions:

    • How much of the medication should I take?
    • How often should I take it?
    • Are there special instructions, such as to take the drug with food?
    • What should I do if I miss a dose?

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    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.

    References

    Effects Of Exercise On Blood Pressure

    Aerobic activities such as swimming, cycling, and running put additional demands on your cardiovascular system. Your muscles need more oxygen than they do when youre at rest, so you have to breathe more quickly.

    Your heart starts to pump harder and faster to circulate blood to deliver oxygen to your muscles. As a result, systolic blood pressure rises.

    Its normal for systolic blood pressure to rise to between 160 and 220 mm Hg during exercise. Unless youve cleared it with your doctor, stop exercising if your systolic blood pressure surpasses 200 mm Hg. Beyond 220 mm Hg, your risk of a heart problem increases.

    Different factors can influence how your cardiovascular system responds to exercise. Some of these factors include diet, medical conditions, and medications.

    For instance, exercise hypertension is a condition that causes an extreme spike in blood pressure during physical activity. People with exercise hypertension can experience spikes in systolic blood pressure up to 250 mm Hg during exercise.

    In general, your blood pressure should return to normal within several hours of a workout. Even then, you might notice that your blood pressure doesnt return to exactly what it was before exercise. Thats because its normal for blood pressure to drop slightly within a few hours of exercise.

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    How To Lower Blood Pressure Natually

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    A 6 Step Process For Assessing A Blood Pressure Management Plan

    How to take blood pressure properly

    1.Obtain a high-quality home blood pressure monitor.

    Why: Studies have found that home-based measurements are better than office-based BP measurements. They better reflect a persons BP over 24 hours.

    Notes: See Choosing & Using a Home Blood Pressure Monitor for more details on choosing a monitor. Be sure to get one that measures BP at the upper arm . Ask your doctor for help validating that your home monitor is getting accurate readings.

    2. Check blood pressure twice a day, every day for one week.

    Why: Since blood pressure is constantly changing a bit or sometimes a lot in the body, checking several days in a row means that youll have several readings that can be averaged.

    Aim to check at the same times every day. An average of several daily readings provides a more accurate picture of a persons BP.

    Checking in the morning and evening is recommended by many experts. This is because BP can vary during the day, especially in people who are taking BP medications. But if checking twice a day seems too hard, just check once a day.

    Experts also often say to check BP in the morning before any medications are taken. However, if there have been any concerns about falls, I like to review readings taken about an hour after medication. This is because I want to make sure the BP isnt falling too low when a person takes their medication.

    Some home blood pressure monitors have a feature that makes this easy to do.

    3. Make an up-to-date list of all current medications.

    Notes:

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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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