Know Your Numbers

Heartmail Spring 2018

APRIL 12, 2018

home blood pressure monitor

A Guide to Monitoring Blood Pressure at Home

Keeping tabs on blood pressure at home can help guide your treatment and help you to stay motivated to keep blood pressure down.

A study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that people who monitored their blood pressure at home were more likely to reach their goals than those monitored only by their clinician.

More about High Blood Pressure

How to Measure Your Blood Pressure

The American Heart Association recommends six key steps to monitoring your blood pressure.

  1. Don’t smoke, exercise or drink caffeinated beverages or alcohol within 30 minutes of measurement.
  2. Rest in a chair for at least five minutes with your left arm resting comfortably on a flat surface at heart level. Sit calmly and don’t talk.
  3. Make sure you’re relaxed. Sit still in a chair with your feet flat on the floor with your back straight and supported.
  4. Use a properly calibrated and validated heart monitor that measures blood pressure on the upper arm. Check on the cuff size and fit.
  5. Place the bottom of the cuff above the bend of your elbow.
  6. Take at least two readings one minute apart — in the morning before taking medications and in the evening before dinner. Record all results immediately and share them with your doctor.

Stages of Blood Pressure

(source: American Heart Association)

Blood Pressure Category Systolic mm HG
(top number)
Diastolic mm HG
(bottom number)


Less than 120


Less than 80


120 – 129


Less than 80

High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension Stage 1

130 – 139


80 – 89

High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2

140 or higher


90 or higher

Hypertensive Crisis
(consult doctor immediately)

Higher than 180


Higher than 120


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Above content provided by the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
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