Measure Your Blood Pressure

Measure your blood pressure regularly to help your health care team diagnose any health problems early. You and your health care team can take steps to control your blood pressure if it is too high.

Why do I need to measure my blood pressure?

Measuring your blood pressure is the only way to know whether you have high blood pressure. High blood pressure usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.

Where can I get my blood pressure checked?

You can get your blood pressure measured

  • By a health care team member at a doctor’s office.
  • At a pharmacy that has a digital blood pressure measurement machine.
  • With a home blood pressure monitor that you can use yourself.

Take this form pdf icon[PDF – 105 KB] with you on your first blood pressure visit to record important blood pressure-related information.

How do health care professionals measure my blood pressure?

First, a health care professional wraps an inflatable cuff around your arm. The health care professional then inflates the cuff, which gently tightens on your arm. The cuff has a gauge on it that will measure your blood pressure.

The health care professional will slowly let air out of the cuff while listening to your pulse with a stethoscope and watching the gauge. This process is quick and painless. If using a digital or automatic blood pressure cuff, the health care professional will not need to use a stethoscope.

The gauge uses a unit of measurement called millimeters of mercury (mmHg) to measure the pressure in your blood vessels. Learn more about blood pressure measurements.

If you have high blood pressure, talk to your health care team about steps to take to control your blood pressure to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Use this list of questions to ask your health care team pdf icon[PDF – 173 KB] to help you manage your blood pressure.

How can I measure my blood pressure at home?

Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) monitoring.

SMBP means you regularly use a personal blood pressure measurement device away from a doctor’s office or hospital—usually at home. These blood pressure monitors are easy and safe to use. A health care team member can show you how to use one if you need help.

Evidence shows that people with high blood pressure are more likely to lower their blood pressure if they use SMBP combined with support from their health care team than if they don’t use SMBP.1

Learn about the proper way to measure your blood pressure and things that can affect your blood pressure reading. Use this blood pressure log pdf icon[PDF – 611 KB] to record your blood pressure measurements.

How often should I measure my blood pressure?

Talk with your health care team about how often you should have your blood pressure measured or when to measure it yourself. People who have high blood pressure may need to measure their blood pressure more often than people who do not have high blood pressure.

What should I do if my blood pressure numbers are high?

If you are concerned about your blood pressure numbers, talk to your health care team. They can help you make a plan to manage high blood pressure.

No matter your age, you also can take steps each day to help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.

Shareable Handouts and Tools

More Information

American Heart Association

References

  1. Uhlig K, Balk EM, Patel K, Ip S, Kitsios GD, Obadan NO, et al. Self-Measured Blood Pressure Monitoring: Comparative Effectiveness. Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 45. (Prepared by the Tufts Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. HHSA 290-2007-10055-I.) AHRQ Publication No. 12-EHC002-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2012.