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HealthInfo Canterbury

Measuring your blood pressure at home

Home blood pressure testing is when you measure your blood pressure in your home under a health professional's guidance.

Home blood pressure measurements can help:

How to choose a blood pressure monitor

If you're measuring your blood pressure at home, you need to use a validated blood pressure monitor. Validated means the monitor has been confirmed to give accurate and reliable results.

Devices for home monitoring usually inflate automatically when you push a button. There are some manual models where you need to inflate the cuff yourself by pumping a bulb.

Devices that measure blood pressure at your upper arm are considered to be more reliable than those that measure blood pressure at your wrist or finger. Rarely, some people need to use a validated wrist device if they have a large arm.

It's important to choose the right cuff size. Cuffs are available in small, medium and large sizes. Using the wrong cuff size can give you incorrect blood pressure readings. A cuff that's too small will overestimate blood pressure and a cuff that's too large will underestimate blood pressure.

If you aren't sure about the accuracy of your blood pressure monitor, take it to your GP's office or a pharmacy. There, the staff can compare your monitor's reading to their own device.

Tips on how to measure your blood pressure

Your blood pressure changes throughout the day depending on the time of day, what you're doing and any stress or excitement you're feeling. Fluctuations in blood pressure are normal. Caffeine and tobacco smoke can increase your blood pressure. It's best to take your measurements before or at least 30 minutes after drinking caffeine or smoking.

Recording your blood pressure

Some blood pressure monitors can record your blood pressure readings. But you may prefer to keep a paper diary or use a blood pressure app to record your blood pressure measurements.

Things to avoid

Blood pressure apps

Avoid blood pressure apps that claim to be able to measure blood pressure without using a blood pressure cuff. These apps aren't validated and aren't recommended for diagnosing or managing high blood pressure.

Changing your medication

Don't change your blood pressure medications based on your blood pressure readings without talking to your GP.

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Adapted from Health Navigator by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created December 2020.

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