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There are two types of blood pressure monitors:
When you first get a blood pressure device, check its accuracy. Do this by comparing its readings with those you get at the doctor's office. Ask your doctor or nurse to watch you use your device to make sure that you are doing it right and that it works right. It's a good idea to have your device checked every year at the doctor's office.
The size of the blood pressure cuff and where you place it can greatly affect how accurate your device is. If the cuff is too small or too large, the results won't be right. You may have to measure your arm and choose a monitor that comes in the right size.
A monitor that measures blood pressure in your arm is recommended for most people. Blood pressure monitors used on the wrist aren't as reliable as those that use arm cuffs. Wrist monitors should be used only by people who can't use arm cuffs for physical reasons. And devices that use finger monitors aren't recommended at all.footnote 1
Check your blood pressure cuff often. Make sure all of the parts of your monitor are in good condition. Even a small hole or crack in the tubing can lead to inaccurate results.
Before you take your blood pressure:
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.
When you first start taking your blood pressure at home, always take your blood pressure 3 times. Wait 1 to 2 minutes between recordings to let the blood flow back into your arm. After you get better at doing it, you probably will need to do it only once or twice each time.
If you're not familiar with using a stethoscope, you may want to get help from someone who is. The accuracy of a blood pressure recording depends on putting the stethoscope in just the right place.
Keep a blood pressure diary. Your records may help explain changes in your blood pressure readings and help your doctor make sure you get the right treatment.
Everyone's blood pressure changes from day to day and even from minute to minute sometimes. Blood pressure tends to be higher in the morning and lower at night. Stress, smoking, eating, exercise, cold, pain, noise, medicines, and even talking can affect it.
Record your blood pressure numbers with the date and time. You might use a home blood pressure log(What is a PDF document?) or a spreadsheet on your computer. Your monitor might have a feature that will record your numbers for you. Some monitors can transfer this information to your computer.
Also record your daily activities, such as the time you take medicine or if you feel upset or feel stressed.
CitationsAmerican Heart Association. (2005). Recommendations for blood pressure measurement in humans and experimental animals. Part 1: Blood pressure measurement in humans. AHA Scientific Statement. Hypertension, 45(1): 142-161.Other Works ConsultedWeber MA, et al. (2013). Clinical practice guidelines for the management of hypertension in the community. Journal of Clinical Hypertension. DOI: 10.1111/jch.12237. Accessed December 19, 2013.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofOctober 5, 2017
Current as of: October 5, 2017
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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