Taking your blood pressure daily can be great way to monitor your health. If you’re planning to start monitoring at home, it’s important to be as accurate as possible.
One of the best ways to get an accurate blood pressure reading is to measure at the same time each day. The right time of day will depend on you and your schedule.
Learn how and when to check your blood pressure, along with other tips for best practices.
Your blood pressure changes throughout the day. Generally, it will be lowest when you first wake up and will get higher as you do daily activities.
Since your blood pressure changes throughout the day, it’s a good idea to take it at least twice. Taking your blood pressure multiple times throughout the day ensures you’re getting an accurate reading.
Choosing times that work for you
The best times of day to take your blood pressure depend on you and your daily routine. It’s important to pick times that you can stick to every day.
Taking your blood pressure at the same time each day is key to understanding your blood pressure. It can help make sure that the readings you take aren’t affected by the events of your day.
You can select times when you know you’ll be home and are unlikely to be interrupted. For example, you could check your blood pressure before you leave for work, when you get home from work, and before bed.
Factors that can affect your readings
There are a few general rules to be aware of when it comes to timing your blood pressure reading.
For example, it’s not a good idea to take your blood pressure immediately after you wake up, as this will give your lowest reading. Instead, aim to check it when you’ve been up for about half an hour.
It’s also best not to wait until after breakfast and your morning coffee since both food and caffeine can raise your blood pressure. Ideally, a morning blood pressure can be taken after you brush your teeth, shower, and get dressed but before you eat or leave for work.
Food and caffeine aren’t the only things that can cause your blood pressure to spike. There are several other everyday things that can make your blood pressure rise.
No matter what time of day you take your blood pressure, it’s best to avoid these things for at least half an hour before you take a reading:
- smoking or using tobacco
- consuming alcohol
It’s also a good idea to take your blood pressure with a recently emptied bladder.
There are a few different ways to get a blood pressure reading. Each way has advantages and drawbacks.
For many people, a combination of different methods can provide the most accurate picture of their blood pressure.
At a medical office
Getting your blood pressure taken is a common part of medical appointments. It’s a great way to have your blood pressure taken by a professional. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always accurate.
Many people have higher blood pressure at medical offices than anywhere else. This is known as white coat hypertension, and it’s thought to be caused by the stress of being at the medical office.
Even if your blood pressure reading is accurate at a medical office, it’s probably not a convenient way to regularly monitor it. After all, most of us don’t visit a medical office every day.
It’s likely you’ll only have your blood pressure measured at a medical office a few times a year. That’s not often enough to get a complete understanding of your blood pressure.
At home with a monitor
Home monitoring can be a great way to keep track of your blood pressure on a daily basis.
With home monitoring, you can check your blood pressure throughout the day and at times that are convenient for you. It can help you see how your blood pressure changes throughout the day and help you get a sense of your average blood pressure range.
However, you’ll need to purchase a blood pressure monitor to do this. You’ll also need to learn how to use it and how to record accurate readings.
It’s not complicated to learn the basics of many home monitors, but it can still be easy to make a mistake.
At a public kiosk
Public blood pressure monitoring kiosks are available at convenient places, such as pharmacies and grocery stores. You can use these kiosks to check your blood pressure while you’re running errands.
They’re generally free to use and easy to access, but these monitors also have some drawbacks.
Since the monitors aren’t maintained by a medical office, it can be hard to tell how accurate they are. They might not be calibrated or serviced often enough to give accurate measurements.
Additionally, public monitors are likely to be cleaned less regularly than monitors at a medical office. So wipe it down or wash your hands after using one, and interpret the readings with caution.
Once you’ve learned how to use your at-home blood pressure monitor, there are a few steps to help make sure you get an accurate reading:
- Relax for at least 5 minutes beforehand.
- Make sure you’re in a warm and comfortable room.
- Sit with your feet flat on the floor.
- Rest the arm you’re using for measurement on a table or ledge with your elbow at heart level.
- Roll up your sleeves so you can place the cuff on your bare skin.
- Make sure the blood pressure cuff is placed correctly.
- Don’t talk while you’re taking the measurement.
It’s also a good idea to take your blood pressure again after about 3 minutes. Taking your blood pressure twice each time can help you check that your measurement was correct.
If there is a large difference between the two readings, take a third reading. Record every reading you take.
You can also use these tips before using a public monitor or at a medical office. However, in a medical office, the healthcare professional might need you to follow slightly different instructions.
For example, you might be asked to stand or lie down for a blood pressure measurement. This is generally done to measure for
Your blood pressure measures the force of the blood being pushed through your body as your heart beats.
The first number is called your systolic pressure. It measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart pumps. The second number is called your diastolic pressure, which measures the pressure in your blood vessels in between heartbeats.
A single blood pressure reading in the higher range isn’t cause for concern, but if you’re regularly getting higher readings, a medical professional will make a plan to help you lower your numbers.
Elevated blood pressure categories include:
- 120/80 to 129/80 mm Hg: Readings in this range are considered elevated and fall into prehypertension stage. A medical professional might recommend lifestyle changes to help lower your blood pressure.
- 130/80 to 139/89 mm Hg: The readings are considered stage 1 hypertension. You may need to start taking blood pressure medication if your readings don’t improve after following lifestyle changes — especially if you’re at high risk for heart disease.
- 140/90 to 179/119 mm Hg: This is considered stage 2 hypertension, which indicates an even more serious condition. At this stage, your doctor will recommend one or more medications to help lower your blood pressure to a healthier range.
- 180/120 mm Hg or higher: A blood pressure reading in this range is an emergency and could lead to organ failure. If you get this reading, you should seek medical care right away.
Taking your blood pressure can be a helpful tool for monitoring your health. One of the most important steps you can take to ensure you’re getting an accurate picture of your average blood pressure is to measure it at the same time every day.
Make sure you’re relaxed before you take your blood pressure. It’s also best to avoid eating, drinking, or exercising before you take your measurement.
Record your blood pressure daily and report any changes to your doctor or a healthcare professional, especially if you’re getting higher readings.