When should I check my blood pressure?
Follow your doctor’s instructions for when and how often to check your blood pressure. Keep in mind that certain factors can cause blood pressure to temporarily rise. Blood pressure normally rises as a result of:
- Full bladder
- Cold temperatures
- A full stomach
- Taking certain medications
If you can, try to avoid these factors when taking your blood pressure. Also try measuring your blood pressure at about the same time each day.
Preparing to take your blood pressure
Before taking your blood pressure:
- Find a quiet place. You will need to listen for your heartbeat.
- Roll up the sleeve on your left arm or remove any tight-sleeved clothing, if needed. (It’s best to take your blood pressure from your left arm, if possible.)
- Rest in a chair next to a table for 5 to 10 minutes. (Your left arm should rest comfortably at heart level.)
- Sit up straight with your back against the chair, legs uncrossed.
- Rest your forearm on the table with the palm of your hand facing up.
Taking Your Blood Pressure
If you purchase a manual blood pressure monitor (sphygmomanometer), follow the instruction booklet carefully. The following steps provide an overview of how to operate most manual blood pressure monitors.
Manual blood pressure monitor
1) Locate your pulse
Locate your pulse by lightly pressing your index and middle fingers slightly to the inside center of the bend of your elbow. Here you can feel the pulse of the brachial artery. (If you cannot locate your pulse, place the head of the stethoscope in the same general area.)
2) Secure the cuff
Thread the cuff end through the metal loop and slide the cuff onto your arm, making sure that stethoscope head is over the artery. (The cuff may be marked with an arrow to show the location of the stethoscope head.) The lower edge of the cuff should be about 1 inch above the bend of your elbow. Use the velcro wrap to make the cuff snug, but not too tight.
Place the stethoscope in your ears. Tilt the ear pieces slightly forward to get the best sound.
Inflate the cuff
- Hold the pressure gauge in your left hand and the bulb in your right.
- Close the airflow valve on the bulb by turning the screw clockwise.
- Inflate the cuff by squeezing the bulb with your right hand. You may hear your pulse in the stethoscope.
- Watch the gauge. Keep inflating the cuff until the gauge reads about 30 points (mm Hg) above your expected systolic pressure. At this point, you should not hear your pulse in the stethoscope.
Deflate the cuff
Proper positioning of the monitor
- Keeping your eyes on the gauge, slowly release the pressure in the cuff by opening the airflow valve counter clockwise. The gauge should fall only 2 to 3 points with each heartbeat. (You may need to practice turning the valve slowly.)
- Listen carefully for the first pulse beat. As soon as you hear it, note the reading on the gauge. This reading is your systolic pressure.
- Continue to slowly deflate the cuff.
- Listen carefully until the sound disappears. As soon as you can no longer hear your pulse beat, note the reading on the gauge. This reading is your diastolic pressure.
- Allow the cuff to completely deflate.
Important: If you released the pressure too quickly or could not hear your pulse DO NOT inflate the cuff right away. Wait one minute before repeating the measurement. Start by reapplying the cuff.
Record your blood pressure
- Follow your doctor’s instructions on when and how often you should measure your blood pressure.
- Record the date, time, systolic and diastolic pressures.
- Write your blood pressure like a fraction, with systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure.
For More Information
If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 216.444.8282. We will be happy to answer your questions.