The fact that blood pressure measurements vary is no surprise. Blood pressure wanders all over the map throughout the day. It’s generally lowest first thing in the morning, after a person wakes up, and then steadily rises. Blood pressure responds dynamically to movements, meals, and moods.
The best device for most people is a device with an automatically inflating arm cuff and large digital readout for easy reading. To get the most accurate blood pressure readings at home, follow these steps:
- Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, and don’t smoke, during the 30 minutes before the test.
- Sit quietly for five minutes with your back supported and feet on the floor.
- When making the measurement, support your arm so your elbow is at the level of your heart.
- Push your sleeves out of the way and wrap the blood pressure cuff over bare skin.
- Measure your blood pressure according to the machine’s instructions. Leave the deflated cuff in place, wait a minute, then take a second reading. If the readings are close, average them. If not, repeat again and average the three readings.
- Don’t be too concerned if a reading is high. Relax for a few minutes and try again.
- Keep a record of your blood pressure readings and the time of day they are made.
The first and most important tool for an accurate at-home blood pressure reading is proper technique. Whether you opt for wrist or upper arm, how you monitor your blood pressure is just as important as the Blood pressure monitor you use.
- Be consistent – That means taking your +the same time of day and, if possible, same location. If not, make sure you’re seated in a similar chair with your arm rested at the same height.
- Stay still – For 30 minutes’ prior be sure to avoid exercise, caffeine, and smoking.
- Cross your heart – The cuff should be at the same level as your heart. Whether you measure with your upper arm or wrist, be sure you’re seated comfortably with your arm supported so you can hold the cuff at the correct height for an accurate reading.
- Snug fit – Make sure you are using the correct cuff size. Check the size from the manufacturer against your arm and wrist measurements – a cuff that is too small or too large can impact your reading
- Of course, if you’re looking for simplicity with a little less bulk, a wrist monitor may make more sense. While they’re less familiar than upper arm cuffs, wrist monitors have become more common due to their portability. These smaller models have all the bells and whistles of the upper arm cuffs, but their compact size makes them ideal for travel.
- Wrist cuffs are also ideal for people with arm/hand mobility limitations. Or for those with larger upper arms, the wrist monitor can be a more comfortable and easier to alternatives.
- If you follow the guidelines above, they can be just as accurate as upper arm monitors, but with some added convenience.
- See our wrist blood pressure monitor options here.