How To Check Your Blood Pressure At Home

High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the most common health conditions in the USA. One in every three adults¹ has high blood pressure, and nearly 20% of these people don’t know about it.

However, from 80% of those who know about their blood pressure, less than half² can keep their condition under control.

This calls for a detailed understanding of what blood pressure means and learning how to check high blood pressure yourself.  

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What is high blood pressure? 

Blood pressure is the force of blood against your arteries’ walls due to the heart’s pumping motion. High blood pressure refers to a condition that causes the blood to flow with greater force than usual.

The measurements for blood pressure are indicated in two numbers—systolic and diastolic pressure. The first or top number represents your systolic reading, while the second or bottom number represents your diastolic reading.

Normal blood pressure reading should be 120/80 or lower. A reading of 130/80 is regarded as Stage 1 high blood pressure, while a reading of 140/90 is referred to as Stage 2 high blood pressure.

A consistent reading of 180/110 is regarded as a hypersensitive crisis. You need to seek immediate medical attention if you record this reading.

Do note that your blood pressure changes every time, depending on your activities. A doctor will only consider high blood pressure if you record consistent blood pressure measurements.

Why you need to know whether you have high blood pressure 

Detecting high blood pressure early is crucial. You can live with high blood pressure without knowing about it since it doesn’t show any signs or symptoms if it’s not severe. That’s why it’s regarded as a “silent killer.”

Undetected high blood pressure can put you at risk of the following complications:

How to check high blood pressure at home 

Many people monitor their blood pressure at home to manage this condition effectively.

Remember, it’s difficult to identify whether you have high blood pressure unless it is already severe. Therefore, you can only determine whether you have high blood pressure if you measure it regularly.

Here’s what you can do to monitor your blood pressure at home. 

1. Buy the right blood pressure monitoring device 

You can either use a manual or digital blood pressure monitor. Despite the option you choose, you need to find a device best suited for your needs.

Here are the features you should consider when buying your monitor: 

Size 

Using a blood pressure monitoring device with the wrong cuff size can record inaccurate blood pressure readings. It is crucial, therefore, that your blood pressure monitoring device has the right cuff size.

Look for a device that fits your arm. Your doctor can help you choose a device with the right cuff size.

Price 

The cost of your blood pressure monitoring device also plays a significant role in your decision. You need a blood pressure device that fits your budget. You don’t necessarily need to buy an expensive one since not all pricey devices are more accurate. 

Display 

Look for a device with a monitor that quickly reads your measurement readings. Finger and wrist blood pressure devices are not the best options. They are usually sensitive to body temperature and don’t guarantee accurate results. 

2. Use an aneroid or manual monitor 

An aneroid or manual monitor uses a gauge read by looking at a pointer on its dial. All you need to do is wrap the cuff around your arm, squeeze the rubber bulb, and inflate it by hand.

An aneroid monitor sells at about $20 to $40. The cuff has an in-built stethoscope, so you don’t need to buy one. It’s also easy to cuff the unit on your arm. It’s portable, making it a suitable device for monitoring blood pressure at home or anywhere else.

There are a few disadvantages associated with this device. For instance, this device is complex, and you can easily record inaccurate data if you’re not familiar with its usage.

Using an aneroid or manual monitor can also be challenging if you don’t have a metal ring to tighten the cuff around your arm or if you have a hearing impairment. Finally, the rubber bulb used to inflate the cuff may be hard to squeeze for some people. 

3. Use a digital monitor 

Digital blood pressure monitors have the gauge and the stethoscope in one unit, an error indicator, and a small screen displaying your blood pressure reading.

This device can inflate automatically or manually, depending on your chosen model. However, its deflation is automatic. This makes it a suitable option for people with hearing impairment since you don’t have to use the stethoscope. 

4. Check whether your monitor is accurate and learn to use it correctly

Ask your doctor to teach you how to use the blood pressure monitoring device if you don’t know how to.

It’s advisable to check the device periodically, especially whether there are cracks or leaks on its tubing. Finally, store the device properly without twisting the tubing. 

Learn how to check high blood pressure correctly

Consider the following factors before you check your blood pressure:

  • Wait at least 30 minutes after using alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco products 

  • Empty your bladder 

  • Rest for three to five minutes without talking 

  • Sit comfortably, possibly without crossing your legs and ankles 

  • Elevate your arm or place it on a table and sit still 

  • Wrap the cuff around the upper area of your bare arm and ensure that the cuff is smooth and has enough room for you to slip a finger underneath 

  • Check whether the bottom edge of the cuff is at least one inch above your elbow crease 

How to use an aneroid monitor 

If you’re using an aneroid monitor, put the stethoscope first into your ears, with the earpieces facing forward toward your eyes. Then, place the stethoscope disk on the inside of your elbow.

Squeeze the rubber bulb to inflate the cuff until the pointer reaches 30 to 40 points higher than your previous systolic reading. Loosen the unit’s valve and release its air slowly, deflating the cuff by two to three millimeters every second. Avoid loosening the valve too much since you will not be able to measure your blood pressure accurately.

Listen to your heartbeat while letting the air out. Carefully listen to the first sound and check your systolic pressure. Then, continue deflating the cuff as you listen to your heartbeat. At some point, you’ll notice that your heartbeat will stop. The reading on the dial indicates your diastolic pressure.

Write down the pressure reading. If you want to double-check, wait two to three minutes before starting again. 

How to use a digital monitor 

Use the following steps to check your blood pressure using a digital monitor.

First, turn the unit on. If it’s an automatic model, the cuff will automatically inflate itself once you push a button. Squeeze the bulb and inflate the cuff if you’re using a manual device.

Allow the cuff to inflate and deflate. Check your blood pressure reading indicated on the display screen and write down the measurements. Again, the systolic pressure comes first, followed by the diastolic pressure reading.

Release all the air from the cuff by pressing the exhaust button. If you want to double-check your reading, wait for two or three minutes before starting the process again. 

Other options for checking your blood pressure at home 

Some mobile apps promise to check your blood pressure. Although they may provide inaccurate data, they can help you identify patterns in your blood pressure and help you decide whether to do more detailed monitoring.

Some examples of blood-pressure monitoring apps are as follows:

  • Family Lite for iPhone users 

  • Blood pressure monitor for Android users

  • Blood pressure companion for iPhone users 

When to see a doctor for high blood pressure

You need to seek a doctor even if you’re regularly checking your blood pressure at home. You should definitely see your doctor when your pressure readings are exceptionally high, up to 180/110, followed by symptoms like severe headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, or blurry vision.

It’s vital to see a doctor if you think you’re experiencing side effects from your blood pressure medication.

The lowdown

Monitoring your blood pressure can help you avoid the risk of untreated high blood pressure. It’s better to start your treatment early rather than wait and end up experiencing the risks that come with untreated hypertension.

When you know how to check high blood pressure at home, you also tend to develop a healthy lifestyle and follow a diet that will control your high blood pressure. At the same time, you must consult your doctor to ensure that you’re doing things the right way.

With consistent monitoring and early treatment, you can live a long and fulfilling life despite having high blood pressure.

Have you considered clinical trials for High blood pressure?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for High blood pressure, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

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