How to use a home blood pressure monitor
- Be quiet.Talk to your healthcare professional about how to use your home blood pressure monitor. Do not smoke, drink caffeinated beverages, or exercise within 30 minutes of taking your blood pressure. Empty your bladder and ensure at least five minutes of quiet rest before taking measurements.
- Sit correctly.
Sit up straight and supported (in a dining room chair, rather than a sofa). Your feet should be flat on the ground and your legs should not be crossed. Your arm should be resting on a flat surface, such as a table, with your upper arm at heart level. Make sure the bottom of the cuff is positioned directly above the crook of the elbow. See your monitor’s instructions for an illustration or ask your healthcare professional to show you how.
- Measure at the same time every day.It is important to take readings at the same time each day, such as morning and night. It is best to take readings daily, ideally starting two weeks after a change in treatment and during the week before your next appointment.
- Take multiple readings and record the results.. Each time you measure, take two readings one minute apart and record the results using a printable (PDF) tracker. If your monitor has built-in memory to store your readings, take it with you to your appointments. Some monitors may also allow you to upload your readings to a secure website after registering your profile.
- Do not take the measurement on the clothes.
Download a PDF sheet that shows you how to measure your blood pressure correctly. Also available in Spanish and Chinese.
Know your numbers
|BLOOD PRESSURE CATEGORY
|SYSTOLIC mm Hg (top number)
|DIASTOLIC mm Hg (bottom number)
|LESS THAN 120
|LESS THAN 80
|120 – 129
|LESS THAN 80
|HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION) STAGE 1
|130 – 139
|80 – 89
|HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION) STAGE 2
|140 OR MORE
|90 OR MORE
|HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS (consult your doctor immediately)
Note: A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. A healthcare professional should also evaluate any unusual situations. low blood pressure readings.
If you get a high blood pressure reading
- If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you experience signs of possible organ damage, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, vision changes, or slurred speech, don’t wait. to see if your blood pressure goes down on its own. Please call 911 as this is an emergency.
- A single high reading is not immediate cause for alarm. If you get a reading that is slightly or moderately higher than normal, take your blood pressure a second time and write down the results of the two measurements. Consult your health care professional to see if there are any health concerns or if there may be a problem with your monitor.
- If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and retest. If your readings continue to be unusually high, contact your healthcare professional immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
The American Heart Association recommends home monitoring of all people with high blood pressure to help the health care professional determine if treatments are working. Home monitoring, or self-monitoring of blood pressure, is not a substitute for regular visits to your doctor. If you have been prescribed medicine To lower your blood pressure, do not stop taking your medicine without consulting your health care professional, even if your blood pressure readings are in the normal range during home monitoring.
Choosing a home blood pressure monitor
The American Heart Association recommends a cuff-style automatic biceps (upper arm) monitor.
- Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because they produce less reliable readings.
- Choose a monitor that has been validated. If you are not sure, ask your health care professional or pharmacist or search for options in validatebp.org(Link opens in a new window).
- When selecting a blood pressure monitor for an elderly person, a pregnant woman, or a child, make sure it is validated for these conditions.
- Make sure the cuff fits: measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct cuff size.
Once you’ve purchased your monitor, bring it to your next appointment.
Have your healthcare professional check it out to make sure you are using it correctly and getting the same results as office equipment. Plan to bring your monitor in once a year to make sure the readings are accurate.
Home blood pressure monitoring can be especially helpful for:
- Anyone diagnosed with hypertensionalso known as hypertension.
- People starting treatment for high blood pressure to determine its effectiveness.
- People who require closer monitoring, especially people with risk factors for high blood pressure and/or conditions related to high blood pressure.
- Pregnant women Experiencing pregnancy-induced hypertension and/or preeclampsia.
- Evaluate potentially false readings, such as:
- People who only have high readings in the health professional’s office (“white coat” hypertension).
- People who only have high readings at home but not at the health professional’s office (“masked” hypertension).
- NOTE: People with atrial fibrillation or another arrhythmias They may not be good candidates for home monitoring because electronic home blood pressure devices may not be able to provide accurate measurements. Ask your health care professional to recommend a follow-up method that works for you.
Blood pressure in the left arm versus the right arm
Several studies have been done to determine what is a normal variation between the right and left arm. In general, any difference of 10 mm Hg or less is considered normal and not a cause for concern.
Why keep a blood pressure diary?
A blood pressure measurement is like a snapshot. It only indicates what your blood pressure is at that moment. A record of readings taken over time provides a “time lapse” picture of your blood pressure that can help you partner with your doctor to ensure that your deals to reduce hypertension they are working.