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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, drink caffeine, or smoke. Empty your bladder before the test. Sit quietly with your back straight and both feet on the floor for at least 5 minutes. This helps you take your blood pressure while you feel comfortable and relaxed.

How is the test done?

  • If your doctor recommends it, take your blood pressure twice a day. Take it in the morning and evening.
  • Sit with your arm slightly bent and resting on a table so that your upper arm is at the same level as your heart.
  • Use the same arm each time you take your blood pressure.
  • Place the blood pressure cuff on the bare skin of your upper arm. You may have to roll up your sleeve, remove your arm from the sleeve, or take your shirt off.
  • Wrap the blood pressure cuff around your upper arm so that the lower edge of the cuff is about 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) above the bend of your elbow.
  • Do not move, talk, or text while you take your blood pressure.

Follow the instructions that came with your blood pressure monitor. They might be different from the following.

  • Press the on/off button on the automatic monitor. Then you may need to wait until the screen says the monitor is ready.
  • Press the start button. The cuff will inflate and deflate by itself.
  • Your blood pressure numbers will appear on the screen.
  • Wait one minute and take your blood pressure again.
  • If your monitor does not automatically save your numbers, write them 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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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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