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Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home

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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.

Tips for Checking Your Own Blood Pressure

There are certain factors that can cause blood pressure to temporarily rise. For example, blood pressure normally rises as a result of:

  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Cold temperatures
  • Exercise
  • Caffeine
  • Certain medicines

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.

Before Checking Your Blood Pressure

  • Find a quiet place to check your blood pressure. You will need to listen for your heartbeat.
  • Make sure that you are comfortable and relaxed with a recently emptied bladder (a full bladder may affect your reading).
  • Roll up the sleeve on your arm or remove any tight-sleeved clothing.
  • Rest in a chair next to a table for 5 to 10 minutes. Your arm should rest comfortably at heart level. Sit up straight with your back against the chair, legs uncrossed. Rest your forearm on the table with the palm of your hand facing up.

Step-by-Step Blood Pressure Check

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.

1. Locate your pulse

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.

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