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Do you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke? These are some common reasons your physician may want to monitor your blood pressure. Many patients will be stressed when they arrive at the clinic, causing their blood pressures to be higher at the clinic than at home. In order to get a more accurate assessment of your baseline blood pressure, it is recommended that you measure your blood pressure at home and bring a record when you visit your physicians.

A home blood pressure monitor can be purchased at any pharmacy. A prescription is not necessary although if you have private drug plan, it may be covered under a medical device if your physician provides a prescription. Make sure you speak to the pharmacist to obtain a blood pressure cuff that is the right size for your arm.

Each time you measure your blood pressure, it will give you 3 numbers. Your systolic blood pressure (top number), diastolic blood pressure (bottom number), and your heart rate or pulse rate (the number of times your heart beats in a minute).

  • Normal systolic blood pressure is below 120mmHg.
  • Normal diastolic blood pressure is below 80mmHg.
  • Normal heart or pulse rate is between 60-100 beats per minute.

Before you visit your physician, you should measure and record your blood pressure morning and evening for 3 days and bring the results to your doctor so they can optimize your treatment. When you measure your blood pressure, make sure you are comfortably seated and begin by placing the blood pressure cuff on your upper arm (see Figure below). Then close your eyes and relax for 5 minutes before starting the measurement. If your blood pressure tends to be high when it is taken for the first time, you should measure it 3 times 2 minutes apart and discard the first reading, only record the second and third reading.

In between doctor’s appointments, you should monitor your blood pressure at regular intervals.

  • If your blood pressure is usually <130/85, check your blood pressure once a month or once every 2 months.
  • If your blood pressure is between 130-140/85-90, check your blood pressure once every 1-2 weeks.
  • If your blood pressure is >140/90mmHg, you should check daily for 3 days and if it is consistently >140/90, talk to your doctor so your medications can be adjusted.
Figure: Accurate measurement of blood pressure at home.