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How to Take A Blood Pressure

AMBULATORY CARE:

Blood pressure (BP)

is the force of blood pushing on the walls of your arteries. Your BP results are written as 2 numbers. The first, or top, number is called systolic BP. This is the pressure caused by your heart pushing blood out to your body. The second, or bottom, number is called diastolic BP. This is the pressure when your heart relaxes and fills back up with blood. Ask your healthcare provider what your BP should be. For most people, a good BP goal is less than 120/80.

Blood Pressure Readings

Call your doctor if:

  • Your BP is higher or lower than you were told it should be.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Why you may need to take your BP:

You may not have any signs or symptoms of high BP. You may need to take your BP regularly to know how often your BP is high. High BP increases your risk for a stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease. You may need to take medicine to keep your BP at a normal level. Write down and keep a log of your BP. Your healthcare provider can use the BP results in your log to see if your BP medicines are working.

How often to take your BP:

Your healthcare provider may recommend that you take your BP 2 times a day. Take your BP at the same times each day, such as the morning and evening. Ask your healthcare provider when and how often you should take your BP.

How to take your BP:

You can take your BP at home with a digital BP monitor. Read the instructions that came with your BP monitor. The monitor comes with an adjustable cuff. Ask your healthcare provider if your cuff is the correct size.

  • Do not eat, drink, smoke, or exercise for 30 minutes before you take your BP.
  • Rest quietly for 5 minutes before you take your BP.
  • Sit with your feet flat on the floor and your back against a chair.
  • Extend your arm and support it on a flat surface. Your arm should be at the same level as your heart.
  • Make sure all of the air is out of the cuff. Place the BP cuff against your bare skin about 1 inch (2.5 cm) above your elbow. Wrap the cuff snugly around your arm. The BP reading may not be correct if the cuff is too loose.
  • If you are using a wrist cuff, wrap the cuff snugly around your wrist. Hold your wrist at the same level as your heart.
  • Turn on the BP monitor and follow the directions.
  • Write down your BP, the date, the time, and which arm you used to take the BP. Take your BP 2 times and write down both readings. Use the same arm each time. These BP readings can be 1 minute apart.
    How to take a Blood Pressure

What else you need to know:

  • Do not take a BP reading in an arm that is injured or has an IV or shunt.
  • Take your BP medicines as directed. Do not stop taking your medicines if your BP is at your goal. A BP at your goal means your medicine is working correctly.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Bring the log of your BP readings. Also bring the BP machine. Healthcare providers can check that you are using the machine correctly. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.