How to Accurately Read Your Blood Pressure at Home
Wear loose clothing, so that you can push up your sleeve easily. There are a few things that can raise your blood pressure temporarily: make sure you don’t need the toilet and are not anxious, tense or uncomfortable, don’t take the reading straight after a big meal, or within half an hour of drinking caffeine or smoking.
Both of your arms will give a slightly different reading, so take the readings from one arm only, that way you can track your readings over time. If you can, use the same arm that the doctor or nurse uses when they monitor your blood pressure.
Rest for five minutes before you take your readings. Sit quietly at a table. Rest your arm on a firm surface so that it is supported and put each foot flat on the floor. Put the cuff around your arm (following the instructions that came with the monitor) so that it is level with your heart – use a cushion if needs be so your arm is at the right height. Keep your arm relaxed. Keep still and don’t speak.
Take several readings. Do each one after about a two minute gap and work out the average. It sometimes happens that people record a higher blood pressure for their first reading. If that seems to be happening to you, keep taking the readings until they seem roughly the same and then use that as the reading you record.
You can record your reading on your monitor or make a note of it yourself. However you record it, it is important to keep accurate records – don’t round the readings up or down. It could change how your doctor treats you. Don’t worry too much if you get a one off high reading, but if you are getting consistently high readings, see your doctor. Your doctor will decide whether you need a high blood pressure treatment.
Finally, it has been known for people to get wound up by small changes in their blood pressure because they are reading it too often. Worrying can raise your blood pressure in the short term. So, try not to check it too frequently.
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