How Is Your Blood Pressure Checked?

At A Healthcare Professional's Office

A healthcare provider will use a device that wraps around your upper arm and measures your blood pressure.

Before your blood pressure is checked you should make sure that you:

  • Avoid caffeine, smoking, and exercise for at least 30 minutes
  • Sit quietly for at least 5 minutes in a chair (not the examination table)

While your blood pressure is being measured:

  • Sit with both of your feet flat on the floor (not with legs crossed)
  • Make sure that the arm that is being measured is supported at heart level (by your chest) and stretched out
  • Your back should be supported so you can rest comfortably
  • Do not talk

At Home or At Work

You can also check your blood pressure at home using a home blood pressure monitoring machine. You can purchase a blood pressure monitoring device at your local pharmacy.

1) Be sure to follow the steps listed above before and while you are measuring your blood pressure at home. Not doing so will affect your blood pressure and change your blood pressure results.

2) Instructions on how to use the blood pressure monitoring machine are usually in the box of the device. You can also watch the video below for more information on how to check your blood pressure at home.

3) You should measure your blood pressure in the morning and in the evening. You should check your blood pressure if you feel dizzy or lightheaded at any point in the day. If you take blood pressure medication, measure your blood pressure immediately before you take your dose.

4) Write down your blood pressure top and bottom numbers and the time you measured your blood pressure. You can record your blood pressure measurements using our Blood Pressure Tracking Sheet. Bring this sheet to your next doctor's next healthcare visit. Your healthcare provider will get a better idea of what your blood pressure is doing in-between visits.

Click here to download blood pressure tracking sheets to bring to your doctor.

Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is another method healthcare providers use for measuring blood pressure. A patient carries around a blood pressure monitoring machine for 24 hours (1 full day) that measures blood pressure at frequent time intervals throughout the day and night.

In the United States, this method of blood pressure measurement is not used for every patient. Your healthcare provider may consider using this method if:

  • A Patient's blood pressure measurement in the office is very different from blood pressure measurements taken at home or out of the office (also called white coat hypertension)
  • A Patient's blood pressure is still high even though he or she is on blood pressure drugs

Medicare now covers this method for measuring blood pressure. Ask your healthcare provider if this is a good option for you.


American Heart Association. How to monitor and record your blood pressure.

National Heart Lung Blood Institute. Diagnosis of High Blood Pressure.

National Heart Lung Blood Institute. The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure.

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