How should I take my blood pressure reading?

Gwynneth Derere
Gwynneth Derere
  • Updated

This article is for patients who have been asked to take their blood pressure by their GP practice.

Before you take your blood pressure reading

  • Rest for at least five minutes. Sit down in a quiet place, relax, and avoid speaking to anyone.
  • Avoid smoking, drinking caffeinated drinks like tea or coffee, or exercising for at least 30 minutes. They can all raise your blood pressure temporarily.

  • If you need to use the toilet, go beforehand.

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes. Such as a short-sleeved T-shirt or something with sleeves you can push up easily.

When taking your blood pressure reading

  • Sit in a comfortable position with your back supported and both feet flat on the floor. Don't cross your legs because this can raise your blood pressure.
  • Always use the same arm. If possible, use the arm your doctor or nurse uses when they measure your blood pressure.
  • Rest your arm on a flat surface like a table or desk with your palm facing upwards. Your arm should be at the same height as your heart. Keep your arm and hand relaxed, not tensed.
  • Make sure you are relaxed and comfortable. If you are anxious or uncomfortable, your blood pressure will rise temporarily.
  • Follow the instructions that came with your monitor. Make sure you place the cuff around your arm as described in the instructions.
  • Place the arm cuff just above your elbow. The cuff should be about 2cm above your elbow.
  • Keep still and quiet while you take your reading. Moving, chewing, talking, and laughing can all raise your blood pressure.
  • Take two readings, one to two minutes apart. If they are similar, take this as your reading. If they are very different, take further readings until they level out. Take this as your reading.
  • If your blood pressure is over 170/115 mmHg or under 80/50 mmHg, take another reading. If the new reading is still over 170/115 mmHg or under 80/50 mmHg, contact your GP practice immediately or call 111 if they are closed.

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Adding your blood pressure reading in Patchs

  • When your readings have levelled out, add them to Patchs.
  • Write down the exact numbers that appear on the screen. Don't round the numbers up or down.
  • Systolic blood pressure (SYS) is the higher reading.
  • Diastolic blood pressure (DIA) is the lower reading. (It is not the pulse.)

8 things to keep in mind when checking your blood pressure | CFPCN

Further information on blood pressure

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