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Home Blood Pressure Test: About This Test

What is it?

A home blood pressure test allows you to keep track of your blood pressure at home. Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. Blood pressure readings include two numbers, such as 130/80 (say "130 over 80"). The first number is the systolic pressure. The second number is the diastolic pressure.

Why is this test done?

You may do this test at home to:

  • Find out if you have high blood pressure.
  • Track your blood pressure if you have high blood pressure.
  • Track how well medicine is working to reduce high blood pressure.
  • Check how lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and exercise, are affecting blood pressure.

How do you prepare for the test?

For at least 30 minutes before you take your blood pressure, don't exercise or use caffeine, tobacco, or medicines that raise blood pressure. Take your blood pressure while you feel comfortable and relaxed. Sit quietly with both feet on the floor for at least 5 minutes before the test.

How is the test done?

  • Sit with your arm slightly bent and resting on a table so that your upper arm is at the same level as your heart.
  • Roll up your sleeve or take off your shirt to expose your upper arm.
  • Wrap the blood pressure cuff around your upper arm so that the lower edge of the cuff is about 2.5 centimetres above the bend of your elbow.

Proceed with the following steps:

Electronic blood pressure monitors

  • Place the earpieces of a stethoscope in your ears, and place the bell of the stethoscope over the artery, just below the cuff.
  • Close the valve on the rubber inflating bulb.
  • Write your numbers in your log book, along with the date and time.
  • Press the on/off button on the electronic monitor and wait until the ready-to-measure "heart" symbol appears next to zero in the display window.
  • As you watch the pressure slowly fall, note the level on the dial at which you first start to hear a pulsing or tapping sound through the stethoscope. This is your systolic blood pressure.
  • Continue letting the air out slowly. The sounds will become muffled and will finally disappear. Note the pressure when the sounds completely disappear. This is your diastolic blood pressure. Let out all the remaining air.
  • Write your numbers in your log book, along with the date and time.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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