Monitoring Your Blood Pressure at Home

Six steps for an accurate blood pressure reading at home

(RxWiki News) If you're not doing these things, you're measuring your blood pressure wrong.

Follow the steps below to make sure you obtain an accurate home blood pressure measurement.

Getting It Right

1. Relax

Before taking your reading, try to relax. Sit down and rest for at least five minutes before taking a reading. Remain calm and don't speak while measuring your blood pressure. Empty your bladder before taking a reading.

2. Sit Right

Sit in a chair with your back straight and supported and your feet flat on the ground. Make sure your legs and ankles are uncrossed.

3. Position Your Arm

Place your arm comfortably on a flat surface at heart level.

4. Choose the Right Instrument

There are many different blood pressure monitors available. To find the best one, talk to your local pharmacist. When selecting a monitor, there are a few things to look for. Make sure to choose one that is validated, as well as automatic or electronic. In addition, look for one that includes a cuff to be placed on the upper arm — instead of the wrist or finger.

The lower arm or wrist cuffs can be difficult to use correctly. If you cannot find a cuff that is big enough for your upper arm or if the upper arm cuff is painful, ask your pharmacist about selecting a cuff to fit your lower arm or wrist.

Experts recommend checking the accuracy of your monitor. You can do this by taking your home machine to your doctor's office or pharmacy and comparing your machine's readings with those taken at the doctor's office or pharmacy.

5. Get the Right Fit

Make sure the cuff properly fits your arm. Measure your upper arm to find the correct size. If your pharmacist or doctor did not help you select a blood pressure machine, take your machine to the pharmacy to have your pharmacist make sure you have the correct cuff size and that you are using the machine accurately.

Be sure to place the cuff on your skin rather than over your clothes.

6. Don't Stress Your Body

Don't drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, smoke or exercise 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. These activities can affect your blood pressure levels.

Taking Your Blood Pressure

It is important to measure your blood pressure at the same time each day — most often twice a day. You can take your blood pressure once in the morning before eating or taking any medications and once again in the evening. Avoid measuring your blood pressure right after you wake up.

Keep in mind that blood pressure readings are often a little higher in the morning.

When you measure your blood pressure, take two or three separate readings at least one minute apart. Record all three results. That way, you can take your results to your appointments.

Speak with your local pharmacist if you have any questions about measuring your blood pressure.

Also, contact your health care provider if you have any unusual or consistent increases in your blood pressure. Furthermore, ask your health care provider which blood pressure numbers mean you should seek immediate medical attention.