How to Get an Accurate Blood Pressure Reading at Home

HealthAid Bloggers
Blogger, Reporter, Writer
Tuesday, August 2, 2022

High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke and cardiovascular diseases and regular blood pressure checkups are important. However, you don't always have to visit your doctor to get your blood pressure checked. 

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You can monitor your blood pressure at home at intervals especially if your doctor recommends it. Even though you can check your blood pressure at home, most people make mistakes and sometimes record a false reading.

In this blog post, we list some tips for getting an accurate blood pressure reading from the comfort of your home. 

Factors that influence blood pressure reading

Several factors may cause your blood pressure to rise above or fall below normal. This may cause you to take treatment that is unnecessary or have a false sense of security about your health.

  • Food: what you eat, drink, or do just before your reading can affect it. If you smoked, drank caffeine or alcohol, or exercised within 30 minutes of blood pressure measurement, your reading may be slightly higher than normal. 
  • Nervousness: This is known as “white coat syndrome”. This can cause a falsely high blood pressure reading.
  • Medications: There are certain medicines like NSAIDs and decongestants that cause a slight increase in heart rate and may cause false readings. Let your doctor know that you’re on certain medicines so you can be advised appropriately.
  • Sitting position: Crossing your legs and letting your arms droop at the side rather than placing your feet flat on the floor and resting your arms on the table at chest level can make your blood pressure go up.

How can I measure my blood pressure at home?

Blood pressure monitors come in two types: the manual blood pressure machine and the digital/automated blood pressure monitor. 

The best time to buy for use at home is the digital blood pressure monitor. They are easy to use and also helpful if you have any hearing impairments.  These blood pressure cuffs have a digital display monitor that showcases your blood pressure readings.

You can get them online or at pharmacy stores. They often come with manuals so you can update yourself with that or ask your healthcare professional to show you how it’s done.

Other tips if you’re measuring your blood pressure at home are:

  • Endeavor to check your blood pressure at the same time every day
  • Take at least 2 readings 1-2 minutes apart
  • Have a note where you take down your daily blood pressure readings. This way it’s easy to report your measurements to your doctor.

How do I get the most accurate reading?

As mentioned earlier on, many factors influence an accurate reading. Ensure you don’t have a full bladder as this can give falsely high readings. 

Also, if you’re using a manual blood pressure monitor, ensure you’re in a quiet place so you can hear the pulsations. Talking while reading is also not advisable. Other tips are:

  • Get the right blood pressure cuff for your arms as they come in different sizes. The best option is to go for the one where you can comfortably slip a finger between your arm and the cuff when it’s deflated. 
  • Rest for at least 3 to 5 minutes before taking your blood pressure reading and extra minutes if you’ve been very active.
  • When going to see your doctor, go with your monitor at least once a year to calibrate it and ensure it’s working properly.

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