You don’t always have to go to your doctor’s office to have your blood pressure checked; you can monitor your own blood pressure at home. This is especially important if your doctor recommends that you monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis.
There are certain factors that can cause blood pressure to temporarily rise. For example, blood pressure normally rises as a result of:
Try to avoid as many of these factors as you can when taking your blood pressure. Also, try to measure your blood pressure at about the same time each day. Your doctor may want you to check your blood pressure several times during the day to see if it fluctuates.
If you purchase a manual or digital blood pressure monitor (sphygmomanometer), follow the instruction booklet carefully.
The following steps provide an overview of how to take your left arm blood pressure on either a manual or digital blood pressure monitor. Simply reverse the sides to take a blood pressure in your right arm.
Locate your pulse by lightly pressing your index and middle fingers slightly to the inside center of the bend of your elbow (where the brachial artery is). If you cannot locate your pulse, place the head of the stethoscope (on a manual monitor) or the arm cuff (on a digital monitor) in the same general area.
Slide the cuff onto your arm, making sure that the stethoscope head is over the artery (when using a manual monitor.) 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 fabric fastener 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.
If you are using a manual monitor:
You’ll get the most accurate reading if your arm is held straight.
If you released the pressure too quickly or could not hear your pulse, DO NOT inflate the cuff again right away. Wait one minute before repeating the measurement. Start by reapplying the cuff.
If you are using a digital monitor:
If you did not get an accurate reading, DO NOT inflate the cuff again right away. Wait one minute before repeating the measurement. Start by reapplying the cuff.
Follow your doctor’s instructions on when and how often you should measure your blood pressure. Record the date, time, systolic and diastolic pressures. You should also record any special circumstances like any recent exercise, meal, or stressful event.
At least once a year, and especially after you first purchase your blood pressure monitor, bring your monitor with you to your doctor’s visit to check the machine’s accuracy. This is done by comparing a blood pressure reading from your machine with one from the doctor’s office machine.