How to Take Your Blood Pressure at Home

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Did you know you can monitor your blood pressure at home? Our expert explains the benefits and how-to.

By Michael J. Bloch, MD, Vascular Care, Renown Heart and Vascular Institute

A big challenge in blood pressure management is that blood pressure varies greatly day to day, and even minute to minute. By monitoring your blood pressure at home, we can vastly increase the number of readings available to us. Therefore, we can more accurately determine your average blood pressure. Many studies have shown average blood pressure is most predictive of cardiovascular complications.

Home blood pressure readings also reduce the white coat effect, meaning the patient may have elevated blood pressure in the care provider’s office, but not in another setting such as home. Many studies have shown home blood pressure is more predictive of cardiovascular complications than office blood pressure.

 

Purchasing a Monitor

  1. Monitors can be obtained at any major pharmacy or online through multiple vendors. We recommend an automated cuff going around the upper arm (not the wrist).
  2. Automated arm models made by Omron have reasonable accuracy. We suggest the Omron Series 5 or Series 7.
  3. Shop around, accurate monitors can usually be purchased for $50-100 depending on the features.
  4. If your arm is greater than 35 cm (13.7 inches) around, you need a large cuff for your monitor — ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  5. Bring your new monitor to the office to be checked for accuracy at your next visit.
 

How to Measure Blood Pressure at Home

  1. Sit quietly and comfortably in a high-backed chair.
  2. Keep feet flat on floor and legs uncrossed.
  3. Make sure your arm is supported on a flat surface (such as a table), with the upper arm at heart level.
  4. Sit quietly for five minutes before taking your readings.
  5. Take at least two readings, one minute apart.
  6. Unless otherwise requested by your doctor, take readings about four times a week — vary the time of day and the arm you use.
  7. Write down the results of every reading, along with the date and time.
 

Remember the purpose of home blood pressure monitoring is not to make day-to-day changes to your medicines. Continue to take your daily medications as prescribed by your physician. If you are concerned with your blood pressure readings, call your provider.

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