Abnormal blood pressure has become a very common condition in the world. There are more than 100 million US citizens affected with Hypertension says the American Heart Association (AHA). So, it becomes very important to check blood pressure at home periodically.
AHA recommends people check their blood pressure (BP) twice a day. You cannot seek a medical center every time for checking your BP. So, you need to get a blood pressure monitor for home use.
It is not a condition that everyone knows to use the device. So, here we are with a complete guide to use a blood pressure monitor and measure the BP at home regularly.
How to measure blood pressure at home?
This is a complete guide to using a digital blood pressure monitor on your own. Follow the instructions to get accurate readings with every measurement session. We will also discuss the best practices to observe and things to avoid before a testing session. Let us now get into the step-by-step guide.
Choosing the best blood pressure monitor
This is an important factor and decides the accuracy of the result. As per the AHA, wrist and finger monitors are not recommended due to their poor accuracy and reliability. Therefore, use an automatic blood pressure monitor which can be cuffed at the biceps (upper arm).
This monitor is more reliable and can provide accurate results when used properly. You can also get recommended products from your doctor or pharmacist.
Another important thing to consider before buying is the cuff size. According to the size of your arms, choose the proper cuff size. Because a proper fit is important for getting correct results and you cannot compromise with it.
After buying the monitor, you can cross-verify the result with your doctor and make sure that the monitor provides you with the correct result. So, now you have a valid device to check your blood pressure. Let us now get to the procedure.
Checking the Blood Pressure
- Find a place to relax and sit comfortably. You have to make yourself calm before taking the test to get the correct results.
- Choose a chair or sofa with an armrest. This will avoid erroneous results and doesn’t strain your arm while reading.
- Prepare your BP monitor. The device comes with cuffs connected to a tube which must be inserted into the air valve. Make sure there are enough batteries with sufficient charges in the device.
- Roll up your sleeve so that the upper arm is exposed. There shouldn’t be any clothes on the upper arm while cuffing.
- Open the cuff and insert your arm into it. The cuff must sit above the bend of your elbow and there will be an arrow mark that should point to the elbow crease line.
- Now fasten the cuff but don’t tighten it too much. Make sure the cuff is fitted perfectly and doesn’t squeeze your arm muscles.
- Rest the arm on the armrest of your chair and keep it flat. The upper arm should be at the heart level.
- Once you have finished all the setup, relax for a minute and press the start or on/off button on your device.
- The device will start pumping air into the cuff and it will constrict the blood flow. Once the flow is restricted, the device will automatically release the pressure from the cuff gradually.
- While doing this, the device will be measuring your blood pressure. Finally, it will display the results which show three values. They are: (For Example)
- SYS (Upper Number) – 120 mm Hg
- DIA (Lower Number) – 80 mm HG
- PULSE – 79
- SYS represents the Systolic and DIA shows the Diastolic values. The combined value of the SYS and DIA is your blood pressure.
- In a single session take two or three readings with a minute interval between each measurement. This will give a better insight to your doctor.
- Record the readings separately. Your device may also have a memory that can store a certain number of readings. Make a note of it and show it to your doctor.
This is the correct procedure to check your blood pressure at home. The following table shows your blood pressure status from the readings obtained:
|Blood Pressure Category
|Systolic mm hg(upper number)
|Diastolic mmhg (lower number)
|Less than 120
|Less than 80
|120 – 129
|Less than 80
|High bloodpressure (hypertension) stage 1
|130 – 139
|80 – 89
|High bloodpressure (hypertension) stage 2
|140 or higher
|90 or higher
|Higher than 180
|Higher than 120
Best Practices to Measure Blood Pressure at Home
Since most of the users of the monitor are untrained, they might do some bad practices which may result in incorrect results. So, to avoid such mistakes, here are some of the best practices you must observe while testing yourself.
- Sit comfortably: Comfort is an important factor that can affect BP results. Your restlessness can alter the pressure readings and may give an instantaneous result based on it. So, try to calm yourself and relax before taking a reading.
- Use Proper Chair: Comfortable sitting comes only when you are seated properly. The chair you sit must provide sufficient backrest and armrest. This will allow you to relax better and get proper results.
- Observe timing: In the beginning, you will be advised to take readings daily. So, choose the timing and observe it without failing your tests. It may be morning or evening. But be regular in that timing to get better results.
- Keep a Record: Your device may or may not have storage. So, it is better to write the results down and it can help your doctor to understand your condition better.
- Take Two or Three Readings: Sometimes you may not get the correct result in one go. Therefore, take two or three readings within one minute interval to get a correct measurement.
Handle the device properly – Take proper care of your device and handle it properly. Remove the tube from the device after usage and keep it stored carefully.
What you shouldn’t do during a blood pressure test?
These are some of the things you shouldn’t do and abstain from, before or during the test. This will avoid incorrect readings.
- Don’t eat: Consuming food during the test or shortly before the test can increase BP. It may indicate false hypertension and the diagnosis will be incorrect. So, do not eat shortly before the test and avoid consuming during the test.
- Avoid Unsupported Arm: If you aren’t sitting comfortably in a chair with an armrest, your hand will be in an uncomfortable position and this causes changes in BP. Therefore, avoid hanging your arms down or raising them high above the chest level.
- Don’t stand: There are considerable changes in the readings while standing for a BP test. Therefore, always find a seat and relax before taking the test.
- Don’t cuff above the clothes: This is a common mistake done during BP measurement. When you cuff on top of the clothes, the constriction will not be proper and you cannot get accurate readings. Therefore, always cuff on exposed arms.
- Avoid Smoking: Smoking during the test will not provide correct results. Usually, it will increase the BP and you may be diagnosed with hypertension. So, quit smoking.
- Avoid movements: Try to be still as much as possible. With every movement you do, it will reflect in your BP and can be slightly inaccurate. So, stay calm and be still.
- Don’t Talk: Talking greatly affects blood pressure and will result in an incorrect reading. So, try to be quiet during the test.
- Don’t cross your legs: Crossing your legs can alter the readings up to 8mmHg and this can bring an incorrect diagnosis of your condition. Therefore, don’t sit with crossed legs. Keep your feet flat on the ground and rest yourself.
- Relieve your Bladder: Testing with a full bladder can increase your blood pressure and it is not advisable to sit for a test with that. Therefore, urinate before taking the test.
- Avoid Certain Medications: If you are taking some other drugs which has the potential to increase your BP, you must avoid them while taking the test. You can consult with your doctor regarding this and try to avoid it at least on the day of testing.
- Don’t be irregular: If you want to monitor the BP perfectly, then you must have a schedule for testing and observe it properly. Don’t take the test whenever you feel like it. But you can choose a comfortable schedule and follow it regularly.
- You can also check the guidelines provided by the AHA if you are facing any issues with the readings or are unable to get proper results.
How to calm yourself before a blood pressure test?
There is nothing to worry about while taking a blood pressure test. But if you are concerned with the outcomes of the test, it might make you slightly nervous and this affects the BP. Therefore, here are some of the recommended ways to calm yourself before taking a BP test.
- Take Deep Breaths: Close your eyes and give a deep breath. This will help you to relax better and faster. Don’t rush with your breathing. Feel the inhale and exhale while trying to relax.
- Don’t Overthink: Mental stress highly affects your blood pressure and it can lead to unwanted health conditions. Therefore, always try to keep an open mind and relax. You shouldn’t worry about the results and always try to be positive.
- Take Time to Setup: Once you have decided to take a reading, don’t hurry. Take more time to set up everything and get into a comfortable position. Wait a few minutes before cuffing and a few minutes after cuffing too. This will enable you to ease into the procedure.
- Visualize good memories: If you are really anxious about the test, then try to remember some good memories and think about them. This will help you calm down faster.
- Check the Room Temperature: If your room is too cold or too hot, it will make you more frustrated. This will affect the BP. Therefore, set the thermostat to your comfortable temperature and relax. If you are from another environment, try to get accustomed to the room temperature and then proceed with the test.
- Accompany your loved ones: While taking the test for the first time in your home, you can have someone beside you to assist and comfort you. You may have difficulty in cuffing initially and having a friend or family member will help you to overcome such difficulties. Also, they may cheer you up and relax you better.
These can help you to relax before the test and fetch you the correct result. Your doctor will be able to diagnose properly and treat you better. Testing yourself is good and it keeps a check on your health. So, be calm and composed.
Why should you check your blood pressure?
The list of people affected by heart disease is growing every day. Heart diseases are also becoming one of the common causes of death in the world. So, it is very important to prevent yourself from the condition and lead a healthy life. Therefore, here are the major reasons why you should test your BP at home regularly:
- Prevention of Heart Diseases: We know that prevention is better than cure. Instead of getting diagnosed with serious heart conditions and worrying after that, you can simply keep a check on your blood pressure and treat any condition sooner. So, you can prevent many diseases if you are able to monitor your BP regularly.
- Early Diagnosis: With your regular monitoring, you can easily diagnose any disease before it affects the body severely. This helps with early diagnosis and early treatment.
- More control: Having a check on your BP will make you more health-conscious and give you more control over your daily activities. You can become healthy and fit faster.
- Encourages Healthy Living: You can find out your poor lifestyle choices when you find your BP to be abnormal. So, you will start to live your life healthily.
- Assists your doctor: When you regularly check your BP at home, your doctor will be able to understand you better and diagnose you more effectively. The doctor can provide better medications and you can cure faster.
- Reduces Medical Expenditures: Once you start to monitor yourself, it will save a lot of cost for you. When you can avoid serious diseases, you don’t have to spend on the hospital. A home BP monitor will also save you a lot of money.
So, there are a lot of benefits you get from monitoring your BP at home. It prevents you and aids you to preserve your health more effectively.
We have now understood an important medical diagnosis and learned the procedure to perform it at home. Blood pressure measurement can be done by anyone at home very easily and you don’t have to get any kind of technical training. But you must know the basic usage of the device and the key factors that might affect the readings. We have now completely given you a guide to monitor the blood pressure at home and the dos and don’ts you must observe. Take note of it and check yourself regularly. Health is wealth. So don’t lose your wealth.