Wondering how to take blood pressure at home? We can help you figure out the best way, whether you're starting a blood pressure log or just interested in getting the occasional reading. Living a heart healthy life means checking in with your blood pressure more than once a year at the doctor's office, especially if you know your heart health is at risk.
Here are some tips on how to take blood pressure at home:
- Did you know that there's often a difference between your left and right arm readings? When you're learning how to take blood pressure at home it's recommended that you consistently take your readings off the non-dominant arm, simply because it's easier. If you're unsure about the difference between your arms' readings ask your healthcare professional which arm you should take readings off of.
- Find a quiet space to sit and take your blood pressure. You want to be relaxed.
- Don't exercise, smoke or consume caffeine before taking your blood pressure at home.
- Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor and your arm supported on a flat surface. Keep your upper arm at heart level.
- Make sure you know how to properly situate the monitor cuff and that the cuff fits. Ask a healthcare professional if you aren't sure. Also when you're shopping for a blood pressure monitor measure around your upper arm and choose the correct size.
- Place the cuff over your brachial artery (have a healthcare professional show you how if you aren't sure).
- Take two or three readings in one sitting. Take several readings a few minutes apart each day and record each of them. This can help you or your doctor average your blood pressure.
- Take your blood pressure at home at roughly the same time every day.
- Record the date, time and all of your readings
How to understand the blood pressure numbers:
- The top number is your systolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats
- The bottom number (the lower of the two numbers) is the diastolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats
- Normal numbers are when the systolic is less than 120 and the diastolic is less than 80. Your readings may be higher, but that may be normal for you. Check with your doctor to get a baseline blood pressure reading against which you can compare you readings taken at home.
Now that you know how to take blood pressure at home you can start monitoring your own blood pressure. Be sure to take your blood pressure diligently and record it, along with the date and time, either in a notebook or perhaps your phone or spreadsheet – whatever is the most convenient format for you (remember that you'll also want to show your doctor and/or healthcare professionals).
If you get several high readings across several days you should consult a doctor. If your systolic number is 180 or higher or if the diastolic number is 110 or higher you should seek immediate treatment. Keeping an eye on your own blood pressure is a simple part of a heart healthy life.