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. Because 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 the first two readings 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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