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Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

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Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home

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Step-by-Step Blood Pressure Check continued...

2. Secure the cuff

Thread the cuff end through the metal loop and slide the cuff onto your arm, making sure that the stethoscope head is over the artery (when using a manual monitor.) The cuff may be marked with an arrow to show the location of the stethoscope head. The lower edge of the cuff should be about 1 inch above the bend of your elbow. Use the fabric fastener to make the cuff snug, but not too tight.

Place the stethoscope in your ears. Tilt the ear pieces slightly forward to get the best sound.

3. Inflate and deflate the cuff

If you are using a manual monitor:

  • Hold the pressure gauge in your left hand and the bulb in your right.
  • Close the airflow valve on the bulb by turning the screw clockwise.
  • Inflate the cuff by squeezing the bulb with your right hand. You may hear your pulse in the stethoscope.
  • Watch the gauge. Keep inflating the cuff until the gauge reads about 30 points (mm Hg) above your expected systolic pressure. At this point, you should not hear your pulse in the stethoscope.
  • Keeping your eyes on the gauge, slowly release the pressure in the cuff by opening the airflow valve counterclockwise. The gauge should fall only 2 to 3 points with each heartbeat. (You may need to practice turning the valve slowly.)
  • Listen carefully for the first pulse beat. As soon as you hear it, note the reading on the gauge. This reading is your systolic pressure (the force of the blood against the artery walls as your heart beats).
  • Continue to slowly deflate the cuff.
  • Listen carefully until the sound disappears. As soon as you can no longer hear your pulse, note the reading on the gauge. This reading is your diastolic pressure (the blood pressure between heartbeats).
  • Allow the cuff to completely deflate.

If you released the pressure too quickly or could not hear your pulse, DO NOT inflate the cuff again right away. Wait one minute before repeating the measurement. Start by reapplying the cuff.

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