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Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > High Blood Pressure: Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home
There are two types of blood pressure
When you first get a blood pressure
device, check its accuracy. Do this by comparing
its readings with those you get at
the doctor's office. Ask your doctor or nurse to watch you
use your device to make sure that you are doing it right
and that it works right. It's a good idea to
have your device checked every year at the doctor's office.
The size of the
blood pressure cuff and where you place it can greatly
affect how accurate your device is. If the cuff is
too small or
too large, the results won't be right. You may have to measure your arm and choose a monitor that comes in the right size.
A monitor that measures blood pressure in your arm is recommended for most people. Blood pressure monitors used on the wrist aren't as reliable as those that use arm cuffs. Wrist monitors should be used only by people who can't use arm cuffs for physical reasons. And devices that use finger monitors aren't recommended at all.2
Check your blood
pressure cuff often. Make sure all of the parts of your monitor are in good condition. Even a small hole or crack in the
tubing can lead to inaccurate results.
Before you take your blood pressure:
Remember that blood pressure readings
vary throughout the day. They usually are highest in the morning after you wake
up and move around. They decrease throughout the day and
are lowest in the evening.
When you first start taking your blood pressure at home, always take your blood pressure 3 times. Wait 1 to 2
minutes between recordings to let the blood flow back into
your arm. After you get better at doing it, you
probably will need to do it only once or twice
If you're not familiar with
using a stethoscope, you may want to get help from
someone who is. The accuracy of a blood
pressure recording depends on putting the stethoscope
in just the right place.
Keep a blood pressure diary. Your records may help explain changes in your blood
pressure readings and help your doctor make sure you get the right treatment.
Everyone's blood pressure
changes from day to day and even from minute to minute sometimes. Blood pressure tends to be higher in the morning and
lower at night. Stress, smoking, eating, exercise, cold, pain, noise,
medicines, and even talking can affect it.
Record your blood pressure numbers with the date and time. You might use a home blood pressure log(What is a PDF document?) or a spreadsheet on your computer. Your monitor might have a feature that will record your numbers for you. Some monitors can transfer this information to
record your daily activities, such as the time you take medicine or if you feel
upset or feel stressed.
Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection,
Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (2003). Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure JNC Express
(NIH Publication No. 03–5233). Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and
American Heart Association. (2005). Recommendations
for blood pressure measurement in humans and experimental animals. Part 1:
Blood pressure measurement in humans. AHA Scientific Statement. Hypertension, 45(1): 142–161.
March 29, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
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