Know Your Blood Pressure Numbers
How Often Should I Get My Blood Pressure Checked?
- If your blood pressure is normal (less than 120/80), get it checked at least every 2 years or more frequently as your doctor suggests.
- If your blood pressure is borderline high -- systolic blood pressure between 120 and 139 or diastolic blood pressure of 80 to 89 -- check it at least every year or more often as your doctor suggests. Depending on whether or not you have other medical issues, this number might be considered too high.
- If your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, talk with your doctor as this is high blood pressure and requires a doctor’s attention.
Can I Check my Blood Pressure at Home?
Monitoring blood pressure at home is important for many people, especially if you have high blood pressure. This helps you and your doctor track blood pressure more closely to determine if treatment is keeping it controlled.
Your doctor may also suggest that you check blood pressure at home if he/she thinks you may have "white coat hypertension." This occurs when the stress of being in a doctor’s office increases your blood pressure, but it's normal at home.
Ask your doctor to recommend an easy-to-use and reliable home blood pressure monitor. Make sure the size of the blood pressure cuff itself (the inflatable part that wraps around your upper arm) fits properly. If your arm is too large for the cuff, the blood pressure number may be elevated even if it’s really normal. Ask your doctor for a larger cuff to get an accurate reading or make sure you buy a home blood pressure monitor with a cuff that fits you.
Wrist blood pressure monitors can also be accurate when used appropriately. Follow the directions that come with the device.
No matter which type of blood pressure monitor you have, it's a good idea to take it into your doctor's office. You can compare your doctor's reading to the reading on your home monitor. This helps assure that your home blood pressure monitor is accurate.
Before you take your blood pressure, it's recommended to avoid caffeine, cigarettes, and exercise for at least 30 minutes prior to the test.