The following are a few important tips for accurate home monitoring of blood pressure:
- Avoid caffeine, cigarettes, and alcohol for 30 minutes before measuring blood pressure.
- Relax for three to five minutes before taking the reading.
- Sit in a comfortable position, with legs and ankles uncrossed and back supported.
- Place the upper arm or wrist inside the cuff. The bottom edge of the arm cuff should be 1 inch above the crease of the elbow if the cuff is placed on the upper arm. Be sure to remove any jewelry or constrictive clothing that might interfere with placement of the cuff.
- Place the arm on a table so that the arm cuff is at the level of the heart. A pillow can be used if necessary to raise the arm. If a wrist model is used, the wrist must be positioned at heart level to obtain an accurate reading.
- Turn the power on and start the machine. With the automatic model, the cuff inflates with the push of a button; with the semiautomatic model, the cuff must be inflated by squeezing a rubber bulb. After the cuff is inflated, an automatic mechanism slowly reduces the cuff pressure.
- The unit then displays the systolic and diastolic blood pressures as well as the pulse on the screen. Individuals should keep track of their blood pressure readings, note the time of day when they were obtained, and bring this information to their next doctor's visit. If the unit is equipped with a memory function, this feature can be used to keep a record of blood pressure measurements.
- Repeat blood pressure measurement: Wait two to three minutes before re-inflating the cuff, average the two readings and record.
- Blood pressure is typically higher between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. This is the most important time of the day to measure your blood pressure. However, also measure your blood pressure later in the day as it will take 10-15 readings at different times to get a true picture of your blood pressure.
- Blood pressure readings should be below 135/85 at home or at any location outside of the office at least 90% of the time (below 130/80 if you have diabetes).
Record your blood pressure using the BFH Blood Pressure Tracking Sheet and bring it with you to your next appointment.