Physical Body

Taking your blood pressure at home

To get the most accurate blood pressure reading, support your arm at heart level, wrap the cuff around your bare upper arm, and follow the directions on your machine.

There are two things to do before you start. First, check your machine against the one in your doctor’s office. Second, make sure you have the right size cuff—the inflatable part should encircle at least 80% of your upper arm.

When you first start to check your blood pressure at home, measure it early in the morning, before you have taken your blood pressure pills, and again in the evening, every day for a week. After that, follow the plan your doctor recommends, or check it one or two days a month. Each time you take a reading:

 

  • Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, and don’t smoke, during the 30 minutes before the test.
  • Sit quietly for five minutes with your back supported and feet on the floor.
  • When taking the measurement, support your arm so your elbow is at the level of your heart.
  • Push your sleeves out of the way and wrap the cuff over bare skin. Measure your blood pressure according to the machine’s instructions.
  • Leave the deflated cuff in place, wait a minute, then take a second reading. If the readings are close, average them. If not, repeat again and average the three readings.
  • Don’t panic if a reading is high. Relax for a few minutes and try again.
  • Keep a record of your blood pressure readings and the time of day they are taken.

 

Checking blood pressure at home won’t cure hypertension, but it will help control the most common cause of stroke and a big contributor to heart attack, heart failure, and premature death.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat