How To Take Your Own Blood Pressure
If you suffer from high blood pressure, self-checking can be a useful way of monitoring your progress as you attempt lower your blood pressure. This film, made in conjunction with the Blood Pressure Association, will show you how to take your own blood pressure.
Step 1: Choosing a monitor
Most modern blood pressure monitors are digital. Different monitors can measure your blood pressure from your arm or wrist. The BPA recommends using an arm monitor as they tend to be more accurate. The most important thing is that you use one which has been clinically validated. To ensure that it remains accurate, you should return your monitor to its manufacturer every 1 to 2 years to have it recalibrated.
Step 2: When & how often?
Discuss with your doctor or nurse how self-checking can be of most benefit to you. They'll let you know how often is best for you. Many people check first thing in the morning and last thing at night. It's useful to take readings at the same time of day, so that you are consistent and comparing like with like. Don't take readings too often as blood pressure levels go up and down and you could get a false impression, thus causing yourself unnecessary worry.
Step 3: Preparation
Several factors can make your blood pressure rise temporarily: exercise, alcohol, illness, caffeine, tobacco, a full bladder, anxiety, excitement and pain are just a few. When you take readings, make sure your bladder is empty and you have not just eaten a meal. You should also avoid taking measurements within 30 minutes of drinking caffeine or smoking.
Step 4: Measure
Sit down, preferably at a desk or table, in a quiet place. Rest for about 5 minutes. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Read your monitor's instructions before use. Fasten the cuff around your arm. It's important to use the right sized cuff, otherwise you may get inaccurate readings. The bladder (the part which inflates) should cover at least two thirds of the distance around your arm and should not overlap. The bottom of the cuff should be about 2cm (1 inch) away from the crease in your elbow and you should be able to fit one fingers between the cuff and your arm when it is fastened. Rest your arm at the height of your heart. Turn the monitor on. It will automatically inflate the cuff. It's normal to feel a tightening sensation. When the display on the monitor sets, record your reading. Readings can vary so it's a good idea to take up to 3 readings in one sitting, and record them all for your doctor to look at.
Step 5: Your reading
If you are monitoring your blood pressure at home, have readings consistently above 140/90 and have not seen your doctor or nurse, you should do so.
Step 6: Further information
You'll find more information about blood pressure here on the VideoJug website, and further links at the end of this film. If you do have concerns about your health, always seek professional help.