The main test for
high blood pressure is simple, fast, and painless.
These are the usual steps:
You sit quietly for 5 minutes before the test, with both feet flat on the floor.
You sit down with your arm resting
on the arm of the chair so that your arm is level with your heart.
sleeve, called a cuff, is wrapped around your upper arm. It's attached to a
dial that will show your blood pressure
The nurse (or other health
professional) seals the cuff and pumps it up. You feel tight pressure as the
cuff cuts off the blood flow in your arm.
Next, the nurse slowly loosens the cuff while using a stethoscope to listen to
the heartbeat in your inner elbow. When the cuff is just loose enough that
blood starts to flow again and the nurse can hear it, that is your systolic
The cuff is slowly loosened
some more. When it's loose enough that your heartbeat can no longer be heard
through the stethoscope, that is your diastolic blood
If this test shows that your blood pressure is
high, your doctor will likely have you come in for a follow-up visit to be tested again.
This will confirm that you have high blood pressure.
Some people only have high blood pressure when they're at the
doctor's office. This is called
white-coat hypertension. If your doctor thinks this is getting in the way of measuring your
true blood pressure, you may need to take your blood pressure at home.