Checking your blood pressure at home can be extremely helpful in managing hypertension and overall health. Self-screening and home monitoring can help gauge your blood pressure in a familiar setting, verify that your medications are working and warn your provider of any potential health complications. Jessica Barkdull, NP, PPG – Cardiology, demonstrates the proper way to check your blood pressure while at home and a few dos and don’ts to ensure accurate results.
Obtaining an accurate blood pressure
When checking your blood pressure at home, there are a few tricks to help you get the most accurate blood pressure reading. Try incorporating a few of these strategies before beginning:
- Feet – Both feet should be resting flat on the floor with legs uncrossed.
- Back – You should sit in a chair or position with proper back support throughout the process.
- Arm – Your arm must be bare and resting comfortably at heart level. Any clothing on your arm can add 10-40 mmHg to your blood pressure, resulting in an inaccurate reading.
- Bladder – Before checking your blood pressure, hit the restroom. A full bladder can add 10 mmHg to your blood pressure numbers.
- Rest – You will want to rest quietly for about 5 minutes before taking your blood pressure. Try to refrain from talking or activity during this time.
If you tend to get inconsistent readings, you may need to check your blood pressure multiple times, then average those readings together. If your blood pressure is more consistent, you may only need one reading. Once you have your results, it’s important to record your numbers (both systolic and diastolic) and pulse.
When and how often
If your blood pressure has been controlled and stable over an extended period, we recommend checking it once or twice a month to ensure it isn’t rising over time. However, if you are undergoing medication changes, you may need to check your blood pressure a few times a week or daily.
I also advise patients to check their blood pressure twice a day. Once in the morning, after they’ve gone to the bathroom, but before eating or drinking anything. Then again in the evening, as they wind down for the day. Those times of day will produce the most accurate readings.
If you have questions or feel concerned with your blood pressure readings, please speak with your primary care provider or healthcare team. They can help you decide what’s appropriate for you while discussing next steps and how to reach your personal health goals.