Which home blood pressure reading machine?
Most blood pressure machines which you can buy from chemist, supermarkets or online are as accurate as machines which GPs use in their surgeries as long it is a machine which goes around the upper arm and NOT around the wrist!
The cheapest machines start around £10 to £20.
Simple steps to an accurate reading
There are a few simple steps that you can follow to be sure that you get an accurate reading of your blood pressure.
Before you take your blood pressure 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 tshirt so that you can push your sleeve up comfortably.
Always use the same arm for blood pressure 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 five 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. Do NOT cross your legs.
How to take your blood pressure using a home blood pressure monitor
Put the cuff on following the instructions that came 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 at least three readings, each about four minutes apart. If the readings getting lower every time then keep taking readings until they level out and stop falling, then use the lowest of the last two readings and record it.
Record your reading, either in the memory of your monitor or on computer or paper.
Take your blood pressure reading at the same time of the day, ideally at lunch time and in the evening.
If your doctor wants to find out whether you have a problem with high blood pressure or wants to see whether a drug is helping to reduce your blood pressure then take your blood pressure twice a day (by following step 4) for 4 weeks and contact your GP with he recorded readings by making a routine telephone appointment.
If your blood pressure is stable however then you only have to take occasional readings, about once a month or so. If you find that your blood pressure is higher than 135/85 on several occasions then start take readings daily for 4 weeks again, record them and book a routine telephone appointment with your GP if average blood pressure readings remains above 135 over 85.
Tips on taking blood pressure readings
- Do not round your measurements up or down. If you do not keep accurate records of your blood pressure it may affect the treatment you receive.
- 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 of time then follow step 8.
- Do not check your blood pressure too often. You may become worried or stressed about small changes in your reading. This can raise your blood pressure in the short term. Worrying about your blood pressure reading may actually make it higher.
*Based on National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Hypertension guidelines 2019
Non-urgent advice: Sending Us Your Blood Pressure Readings
Simply download this blood pressure readings form (Microsoft word) and when completed send it into the surgery.