It is quite normal for your blood pressure to fluctuate throughout the day as it is influenced by things like hydration status, physical activity level, and stress level. Here are some of the tips I have shared with my own patients on how to measure their blood pressure at home:
1. Invest in an arm cuff instead of a wrist cuff
If you haven’t made the purchase already, I encourage you to buy a home blood pressure machine that has an arm cuff rather than a wrist cuff. Even though it is easier to use, a wrist cuff tends to give you higher readings. Choosing the right size cuff also matters. If you are not sure what is the right size, measure your upper arm using a tape measure. Measure halfway between the elbow and shoulder, making sure the tape measure is level all the way around. It should be snug, not tight. Read the measurement on the tape measure in inches. A circumference of 7 to 9 inches is equivalent to a small adult sized cuff. 9 to 13 inches is equivalent to regular/standard sized cuff. 13 to 17 inches is equivalent to large adult sized cuff.
2. Make sure that you are physically ready to take the blood pressure
Don’t exercise for at least 30 minutes before you plan to check your blood pressure. The same thing goes for caffeine and tobacco. Sit quietly for 5 minutes before starting. When you are seated, do not cross your legs. Your arm should be resting on a surface at the level your heart (mid chest). Remember to use the same arm for very blood pressure check. Also, make sure that your bladder is empty as a full bladder can elevate your blood pressure reading by as much as 8 points.
3. Remember to take the average
Check your blood pressure three times in the morning and three times in the evening. The morning set should consist of three readings that are done 1 minute apart. Same thing with the evening set. Take the lowest reading of the morning set and the lowest reading of the evening set. Take the average of the two and you have your blood pressure reading of the day. Repeat this process for at least 3 days in a row during a given week.
It is important to get an accurate record of your blood pressure readings outside of the clinical setting so that you and your doctor can make an informed decision on treatment based on data that you know you can trust.
The Art of Measuring Blood Pressure At Home
There are some things you should pay attention to when measuring your own blood pressure at home to ensure the accuracy of the readings.