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Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

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Home Blood Pressure Test

How To Prepare

Before you take your blood pressure

  • Don't eat, smoke, or exercise for at least 30 minutes before you take your blood pressure. And don't use any medicines that can raise blood pressure, such as certain nasal sprays.
  • Rest at least 5 minutes before you take a reading. Sit in a comfortable, relaxed position with both feet on the floor.
  • Don't move or talk while you are measuring your blood pressure.
  • Try not to take your blood pressure if you are nervous or upset.
  • If you can, use the same arm for every reading. Readings may be 10 to 20 mm Hg different between your right arm and your left arm.

Remember that blood pressure readings vary throughout the day. They usually are highest in the morning after you wake up and move around. They decrease throughout the day and are lowest in the evening.

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring

If you have an ambulatory blood pressure monitor, you do not need to do anything to prepare. The monitor will automatically take your blood pressure while you do your normal daily activities.

How It Is Done

actionset.gif High Blood Pressure: Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home

Buying and maintaining a monitor

When you buy a blood pressure monitor, be sure to buy the correct size. The size of the blood pressure cuff camera.gif and where you place the cuff on your arm can change your blood pressure readings. If the cuff is too small camera.gif or too large camera.gif, the measurements will not be accurate. Hospital and medical supply stores generally carry many cuff sizes and can help make sure that your cuff fits you.

Take your new monitor to your doctor's office to make sure it is working right. Have your health professional take your blood pressure and then compare that result with your own device. Ask your health professional to watch you use your monitor to make sure that you are using it correctly. It is a good idea to have your monitor checked every year.

Check your blood pressure cuff frequently to see that the rubber tubing, bulb, valves, and cuff are in good condition. Even a small hole or crack in the tubing can lead to inaccurate results.

Taking your blood pressure

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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