If you are prone to high blood pressure levels, it is great to be able to take your blood pressure at home without the help of a doctor or nurse. This skill will allow you to monitor your blood pressure independently. Some patients may be asked by their doctor to monitor their own blood pressure.
Others may make the decision themselves out of interest. It is a useful skill, so that when your blood pressure spikes, you will be aware of it and can take measures to bring it down to normal levels again.
Keeping your blood pressure from soaring is important as having a high blood pressure can lead to risks of dangerous health conditions that can even be life threatening. High blood pressure can increase your risk of both heart disease and having a stroke.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Equipment do you need to Take your Blood Pressure?
- 2 Prepare Correctly for the Blood Pressure Test
- 3 Performing the Test
- 4 What do the Results mean?
- 5 Consult a Doctor if you have Concerns
- 6 You may also like:
What Equipment do you need to Take your Blood Pressure?
To take your blood pressure from home you will need a blood pressure cuff. Make sure it is of the correct size for your arm. This is important because a cuff of the incorrect size can lead to inaccurate readings.
In fact, most errors in blood pressure measurement are due to the patient using a cuff that does not fit them properly.  A standard sized blood pressure cuff that you can buy at your local drug store should fit most adults.
If you are taking the blood pressure of a child, or you have a particularly wide or narrow arm, you may need to consider a different sized cuff.  Check the size of the cuff when you are buying it. The only other tool you need for this test is a good quality stethoscope so that you can listen to your pulse.
Prepare Correctly for the Blood Pressure Test
It is important that you take measures to correctly prepare yourself for the test. Sit down and make sure you relax for a full five minutes before you begin the test.  Doing this will allow your heart rate and blood pressure to return to a resting rate.
Remove any clothing that might interfere with the cuff placement, especially tight sleeves. Avoid smoking, ingesting caffeine and exercising 30 minutes before taking your blood pressure.  As cold temperatures can cause high blood pressure levels, try to make sure you are warm and comfortable while you are performing the test.
Another factor that may affect your reading is your bladder. A full bladder can give an inaccurate reading, so test you on an empty bladder.  Sit up straight but comfortably with your palm facing the ceiling, your arm level with your heart, and make sure you uncross your legs. 
Sit somewhere quiet so that you can fully relax and avoid any kind of stress.  A quiet place will also allow you to hear your heartbeat more easily to ensure an accurate reading. Take your blood pressure daily at the same time each day. 
Performing the Test
Step One: Locate your Pulse
Firstly you need to find your pulse in your inner elbow area. Press lightly and you should feel the pulse from your brachial artery.  You may need to use the stethoscope to locate your pulse if you are having difficulty.
Step Two: Apply the Blood Pressure Cuff
Fit the end of the cuff through the metal loop and slide the cuff onto your upper arm. It may be easiest to choose your non dominant arm. Be aware that your blood pressure will differ from one arm to the other so for consistency purposes it is advised that you perform the blood pressure test on the same arm each time.
Make sure the cuff is applied securely and that you are not pinching your skin. You can tell that the cuff is tight enough if you can wiggle the tips of two of your fingers under the edge but cannot fit your full fingers underneath. 
Step Three: Fit the Stethoscope
Place the stethoscope with the head faced down, the wide part of the head pressing against your skin. You should place it over the area where you found your pulse earlier, just underneath the cuff. Also fit the ear pieces of the stethoscope to your ears.
Hold the pump in the hand of the arm you are not testing and make sure the gauge is positioned where you can see it easily.
Step Four: Inflate and Deflate the Cuff
Squeeze the pump repeatedly until you can no longer hear your pulse through the stethoscope. You should stop inflating once your blood pressure reads between 160 and 180 mmHg, or if you know your normal blood pressure level, stop once you are around 30 to 40 mmHg above it. 
Then open the valve and let the cuff deflate slowly. Watch the gauge carefully and note the exact point that you can hear your heartbeat again. This is called your systolic reading.  You also need to watch for the point when your heartbeat disappears. This is known as your diastolic reading.  Always perform the test several times to make sure you have an accurate reading.
What do the Results mean?
The optimal blood pressure level is below 120/80 mmHg. This means that your systolic pressure should be below 120 and your diastolic pressure should be below 80. 
Your blood pressure can also dip too low. If your systolic pressure is below 85 or diastolic pressure is under 55 then this is considered low.
Consult a Doctor if you have Concerns
Monitoring your own blood pressure allows you to take better control of your health.  This is particularly important if you have a heart condition that you are aware of.
If you are monitoring your own blood pressure from home and get several high readings in a row, this could be cause for concern. If you are worried about your blood pressure levels, visit your doctor for advice.