Many factors affect blood pressure. The fact that there are differences in right and left arm readings emphasizes the importance of measuring blood pressure in both arms initially to prevent the misdiagnosis of high blood pressure. If one arm consistently has higher blood pressure than the other, that arm should be used to measure your blood pressure.
- Make sure the cuff fits.
Measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.
- Be still.
Don't smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within the 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure.
- Sit correctly.
Sit with your back straight and supported (on a dining chair, for example, rather than a sofa). Your feet should be flat on the floor; don't cross your legs. Your arm should be supported on a flat surface (such as a table) with the upper arm at heart level. Make sure the middle of the cuff is placed directly above the eye of the elbow. Check your monitor's instructions for an illustration or have your healthcare provider show you how.
- Take multiple readings.
Each time you measure, take two or three readings one minute apart and record all the results.
- Measure at the same time daily.
It's important to take the readings at the same time each day, such as morning and evening, or as your healthcare professional recommends.
- Accurately record all your results.
Record all of your readings, including the date and time taken. Share your blood pressure records with your healthcare team. Some monitors have built-in memory to store your readings; if yours does, take it with you to your appointments.
- Understand the readings.
Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg (systolic pressure is 120 AND diastolic pressure is less than 80).
- Consult your healthcare professional if you get several high readings.
A single high reading of blood pressure is not an immediate cause for alarm. However, if you get a high reading, take your blood pressure several more times and consult your healthcare professional to make sure you (or your monitor) don't have a problem. When blood pressure reaches a systolic (top number) of 180 or higher OR diastolic (bottom number) of 110 or higher, Contact your GP surgery.