Checking Your Own Blood Pressure
Blood pressure checks are a common reason for doctor visits. Yet, for less than the
cost of a single appointment, you may be able to purchase your own blood pressure
monitor. This way you can check the reading yourself at home.
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. Blood pressure
readings tend to vary, depending on many factors, including stress levels and time
of day. Your blood pressure reading in a doctor's office can be as much as 20 or 30
points higher. The nervousness of being there can be enough to increase blood pressure,
according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Home blood pressure kits
You may purchase blood pressure monitors at pharmacies, medical supply stores, and
discount chain stores. An electronic digital monitor that is battery operated is often
easier to use than the more traditional blood pressure cuff. Electronic monitors usually
It’s important to check the accuracy of either type of monitor every so often. One
way to make sure your monitor is accurate is to take it with you to your next doctor
appointment. Take your blood pressure with your monitor and compare it with the reading
from your doctor’s monitor.
Ask your health care provider or pharmacist to recommend a monitor for you. Keep in
mind that if you have a large upper arm, you'll need a special, large cuff to get
a proper reading.
Read the instructions
Each type of blood pressure monitor works differently. Be sure to read the instructions
that come with yours. Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to teach you how to use
it. Many people can check their own blood pressure at home without difficulty. Some
need assistance from a family member or friend.
Your home blood pressure reading is more likely to be accurate if you do the following:
Don't take readings within a half-hour after smoking, exercising, or drinking
beverages with caffeine.
Take 2 or 3 readings at least 2 minutes apart, and average the results.
Take readings at different times during the day, or on several days at different
Before you take your blood pressure, sit for 5 minutes with your back supported
and your feet flat on the ground. Rest your arm on a table at the level of your
Use the bathroom before taking your reading. A full bladder can change the
Blood pressure is recorded as 2 numbers: the systolic pressure, when the heart beats,
over the diastolic pressure, when the heart relaxes between beats. The systolic number
comes first, or on top. The diastolic number is second, or on the bottom. Both numbers
in a blood pressure reading are important. As we grow older, systolic blood pressure
is particularly important.
Get immediate medical care if your blood pressure is much higher or lower than expected.
Whenever you visit your health care provider, take your blood pressure record with