Taking Your Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the artery wall as it moves from the heart through the blood vessels. You can take your own blood pressure reading using a digital monitor. Take readings as often as your healthcare provider instructs. Take each reading at the same time of day.

Step 1. Relax

Man sitting in chair.

  • Take your blood pressure at the same time every day, such as in the morning or evening, or at the time your healthcare provider recommends.

  • Wait at least a half-hour after smoking, eating, drinking caffeinated beverages, or exercising.

  • Sit comfortably at a table with both feet on the floor. Do not cross your legs or feet. Place the monitor near you.

  • Rest for a few minutes before you begin.

Step 2. Wrap the cuff

Arm resting on table while hand secures blood pressure cuff on upper arm.

  • Place your arm on the table, palm up. Your arm should be at the level of your heart. Wrap the cuff around your upper arm, just above your elbow. It’s best done on bare skin, not over clothing. Most cuffs will indicate where the brachial artery (the blood vessel in the middle of the arm at the inner side of the elbow) should line up with the cuff. Look in your monitor's instruction booklet for an illustration. You can also bring your cuff to your healthcare provider and have them show you how to correctly place the cuff.

  • Make sure your cuff fits. If it doesn’t wrap around your upper arm, order a larger cuff.

Step 3. Inflate the cuff

Arm resting on table with blood pressure cuff on upper arm. Other hand is pushing start button on blood pressure machine.

  • Pump the cuff until the scale reads 160. If you have a self-inflating cuff, push the button that starts the pump.

  • The cuff will tighten, then loosen.

  • The numbers will change. When they stop changing, your blood pressure reading will appear.

  • Take 2 or 3 readings one minute apart.

Step 4. Write down the results of each reading

Hand writing in blood pressure log.

  • Write down your blood pressure numbers for each reading. Note the date and time. Keep your results in one place, such as a notebook. Even if your monitor has a built-in memory, keep a hard copy of the readings.

  • Remove the cuff from your arm. Turn off the machine.

  • Share your blood pressure records with your healthcare providers at each visit.