Measuring Your Blood Pressure

Blood pressure should be measured in a standardized fashion using equipment that meets the appropriate standards. These are recommended techniques used by physicians and nurses. If you are measuring blood pressure at home, use these same procedures.
  • Patients should refrain from smoking or taking caffeine or food during the 30 minutes before measurement.
  • Measurement should start after 5 minutes of rest.
  • Patients should be seated comfortably with their arms bared and supported at the level of the heart. The feet should be on the floor.
  • Under certain conditions, blood pressure needs to be measured supine and standing as well.
  • Patients should be relaxed and not talking. The correct cuff size should be used for an accurate measurement. The cuff's bladder should encircle at least 80% of the arm.
  • Measurements should be taken with a recently calibrated and validated instrument.
  • Both systolic and diastolic blood pressures, as well as which arm was used, should be recorded. The appearance of the first sound defines systolic blood pressure and disappearance of the sound defines diastolic blood pressure.
  • Two or more readings separated by 2 minutes should be averaged. If the readings vary by 5 mmHg or more, additional readings should be made. Physicians should explain to their patients the meaning of the blood pressure measurements and recommend periodic measurements. The frequency will depend upon the level of the blood pressure and related cardiovascular risk factors.
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