Blood Pressure: When & How to Check at Home

Overview

How can I get an accurate blood pressure measurement?

There are a few simple steps to help get an accurate blood pressure reading. Keep in mind that certain factors can cause blood pressure to temporarily rise. Blood pressure normally rises as a result of:

  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Cold temperatures
  • Exercise
  • A full stomach
  • Full bladder
  • Caffeine
  • Certain medicines

Avoid these factors if you can when taking your blood pressure. Be sure to follow your healthcare provider's instructions on when and how often to take your blood pressure. Also, try measuring your blood pressure at about the same time each day.

Test Details

What steps should I take while checking my blood pressure at home?

Before taking your blood pressure

  • Find a quiet place.
  • Check to be sure you have the correct size cuff. If you are not sure, or if you have questions, talk to your healthcare provider. (Avoid wrist and finger monitors to ensure an accurate blood pressure reading.)
  • 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 you are right-handed. However, you can use the other arm if you have been told to do so by your healthcare provider.)
  • 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 and on the ground.
  • Rest your forearm on the table with the palm of your hand facing up.
  • You should not talk, read the newspaper, or watch television during this process.

Taking your blood pressure

If you buy a manual or digital blood pressure monitor (sphygmomanometer), follow the instruction booklet carefully.

Record your blood pressure

If you have been asked to record your blood pressure and bring your readings to the office, please write down the date, time of day, systolic and diastolic numbers, heart rate, and which arm you took the reading on. If you are taking part in a program that has remote monitoring, your blood pressure readings are automatically shared with your medical provider. If you are unsure, please ask your provider.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/23/2018.

References

  • U.S. National Library of Medicine/PubMed Health. Measuring Your Blood Pressure at Home (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0041082/) Accessed 10/23/2018.
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Diagnosis of high blood pressure (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/diagnosis) Accessed 10/23/2018.
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine/PubMed Health. What is blood pressure and how can I measure it? (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072435/) Accessed 10/23/2018.

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