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The Omron Lifestyle Kit
High blood pressure is the biggest known cause of disability and premature death in the
Why measure your blood pressure at home?
Your doctor or nurse will want to measure your blood pressure regularly. This is to make sure that medicines or lifestyle changes are helping to bring your blood pressure down. You may also want to measure your blood pressure yourself at home. This can be very useful, for a number of reasons:
- It can give a picture of what your blood pressure is like as you go about your daily life
- You can see if your blood pressure is higher in the clinic that it is at home
- You can see for yourself how your treatment is working for you
- Many people find that measuring their own blood pressure helps them feel more in control of their condition.
Make sure you have the right cuff size
An upper-arm monitor will come with a cuff that you need to wrap around your arm. If you use a cuff that is the wrong size for you, your reading will not be correct. Measure around your upper arm at the midpoint between your shoulder and elbow, and choose your cuff size from the table below.
Monitor cuff sizes
Measurement (cm) Measurement (inches) Cuff size
- 18–22 cm 7.1–8.7” Small
- 22–32 cm 8.8–12.8” Medium
- 32–45 cm 12.8–18” Large
Most monitors will come with a medium sized cuff. You may have to order a different sized cuff separately.
How to measure your own blood pressure
There are a few simple steps that you can follow to be sure that you get an accurate measurement.
Before you take your reading
- Many things can make your blood pressure rise for a short time. Make sure you do not need to use the toilet, and that you have not just eaten a big meal. Do not measure your blood pressure within 30 minutes of drinking caffeine or smoking.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes like a short sleeved t-shirt so that you can push your sleeve up comfortably.
- Always use the same arm for readings, as each arm will give you a slightly different reading. If possible, use the arm that your doctor or nurse uses when measuring your blood pressure.
- Before you take your readings, rest for a few minutes. You should be sitting down in a quiet place, preferably at a desk or table, with your arm resting on a firm surface and your feet flat on the floor.
- Make sure your arm is supported and that the cuff around your arm is at the same level as your heart. You may need to support your arm with a cushion to be sure it is at the correct height. Your arm should be relaxed, not tensed.
Taking your reading
Now, you may be wondering what the numbers on the screen even mean. Well your blood pressure numbers show how hard your blood is pushing against the sides of your blood vessels (arteries) as it travels round your body.
When you have your blood pressure measured it is written like this: 120/80mmHg, which is said '120 over 80'. The first number is the systolic pressure, when your heart pushes blood around your body. The second is the diastolic pressure, when your heart relaxes.
Blood pressure usually ranges between 90 to 250 for the top or maximum number (systolic) and 60 to 140 for the bottom or minimum number (diastolic).
A healthy blood pressure is 120/80 or less, but the lower you can get it, the better. To maintain a healthy level and reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease, check out our links for Diet and Exercise and Reducing blood pressure by keeping a healthy weight.
- Put the cuff on following the instructions that come with your monitor.
- Make sure you are relaxed and comfortable. If you are anxious or uncomfortable, this will make your blood pressure rise temporarily.
- When you are taking your reading, keep still and silent. Moving and talking can affect your reading.
- Take two or three readings, each about two minutes apart, and then work out the average. Some people find that their first reading is much higher than the next readings. If this is the case for you, keep taking readings until they level out and stop falling, then use this as your reading.
Do not be alarmed if you get an unexpected high reading – a one-off reading may be nothing to worry about. Measure your blood pressure again at another time, but if you find that it continues to be high after a period, see your doctor or nurse.
Don’t check your blood pressure too often or you may become worried or stressed about small changes in your reading. This can raise your blood pressure temporarily. Worrying about your blood pressure reading may actually make it higher.
When to measure your blood pressure
When and how often you take readings will depend on your blood pressure. Your doctor or nurse will be able to advise you. It can be useful to monitor your blood pressure closely at first, then less often but at regular intervals. When you first start, measure your blood pressure morning and evening, every day for a week. Discard your first day’s readings – they may not be accurate because you are not familiar with your monitor. At the end of the week you will have a useful picture of what your blood pressure is like normally. You can then take readings less often – once a week perhaps. Your doctor or nurse will be able to advise you.
At times, you may want to measure your blood pressure more regularly for a period. For example, if you are given a new medicine, or a higher dose of medicine, then you could measure your blood pressure over a few weeks to see if this is having any effect.
Working with your doctor or nurse
A doctor or nurse will not usually make decisions about your treatment based only on readings you have taken at home. However, they may still find it useful to know what your blood pressure is like day to day, when you are away from the clinic. Before you start to measure your blood pressure at home, talk to your doctor or nurse. They may be able to advise you on when to measure your blood pressure, or how often. It can also be a good idea to bring your own monitor to the clinic or surgery so that your doctor or nurse can be confident that it is accurate, and that you are using it properly.
*Information provided from the Blood Pressure Association website.