It's a good idea to have your blood pressure checked regularly. However, if you suffer from "white coat hypertension" — a state of anxiety which causes your blood pressure to skyrocket as soon as you are approached by a medical professional wearing a dreaded stethoscope — it can be difficult to get an accurate reading. Taking your own readings at home can eliminate this anxiety and allow you to estimate your average blood pressure in day-to-day, real-life situations.
Setting Up the Equipment
Sit down and open the blood pressure testing kit. Sit down at a table or desk where you can easily set up the necessary equipment. Remove the cuff, stethoscope, pressure gauge, and bulb from the kit, taking care to untangle the various tubes.
2.Raise your arm to heart level. Elevate your arm so that when you bend your elbow, your elbow is parallel to your heart. This ensures that you will not get either an overestimated or underestimated reading on your blood pressure. It is also important that your arm is supported during the reading, so make sure to rest your elbow on a stable surface.
Wrap the cuff around your upper arm. Most cuffs have Velcro, making it easy to secure the cuff in place. If your shirt has long or thick sleeves, roll them up first, as you can only put the cuff over very thin clothing. The bottom edge of the cuff should be about an inch above the elbow.
Some experts recommend you use your left arm; others suggest you test both arms. But while you're first adjusting to self-testing, use the left arm if you're right-handed, or vice versa.
Make sure the cuff is snug, but not too tight. If the cuff is too loose, the cuff will not compress the artery correctly, giving you an inaccurately low blood pressure reading. If the cuff is too tight, it will create what is known as "cuff hypertension" and give you an inaccurately high reading.
Cuff hypertension can also occur if the cuff is too narrow or too short relative to your arm.
Place the wide head of the stethoscope on your arm. The head of the stethoscope (also known as the diaphragm) should be placed flat against the skin on the inside of your arm. The edge of the diaphragm should be just beneath the cuff, positioned over the brachial artery. Gently put the earpieces of the stethoscope in your ears.
Do not hold the head of the stethoscope with your thumb — your thumb has its own pulse and this will confuse you while you try to obtain a reading.
A good method is to hold the head of the stethoscope in place with your index and middle fingers. This way, you should not hear a thumping sound until you have begun to inflate the cuff.
Clip the pressure gauge to a stable surface. If the pressure gauge is clipped to the cuff, unclip it and attach it to something sturdy instead, such as a hardcover book. That way, you can place it in front of you on the table, making it easier to watch. It's important to keep the gauge anchored and stable.
Make sure there is adequate light and you can see the needle and pressure markings well before you begin to test.
Sometimes the gauge is attached to the rubber bulb, in which case this step does not apply.
Take the rubber bulb and tighten the valve. The valve needs to be closed completely before you start. This will ensure that no air escapes as you pump, which would produce an inaccurate reading. Twist the valve clockwise, until you feel it stop.
It is also important to avoid over-tightening the valve, otherwise you will open it too far and release the air too quickly.