Explained: How to Check BP at Home?

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

How to Check BP at Home
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With the events transpiring in the world in the last couple of years, the so-called “pandemic years”, complaints of high blood pressure have been on the rise. So has the sale of digital blood pressure (BP) monitors. What exactly are these digital BP monitors? How to check BP at home?

Let’s find out. But first, let’s run through the basics of blood pressure measurement.

Contents:
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What is Blood Pressure?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Understanding Blood Pressure Readings
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    How to Measure BP at Home Using Digital BP Monitors?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Are Digital BP Monitors Accurate?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Don’t Have Time To Read?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    FAQs
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What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure (BP) is defined as the force exerted by blood on the walls of your arteries (the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to other parts of the body). With each heartbeat, your heart pumps blood into your arteries. 

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). 

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

Your blood pressure reading consists of 2 numbers:
  • Top Number: The systolic blood pressure indicates the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats.
  • Bottom Number: The diastolic blood pressure indicates the pressure in your blood vessels between the beats.
Your blood pressure may vary throughout the day depending on your activities. When your blood pressure is constantly high or low over a period of time, you will be diagnosed with high blood pressure or low blood pressure. Look at the readings in this table to know if your BP is high, low, or normal.
Blood Pressure Category Systolic (mm Hg) and/or Diastolic (mm Hg)
Low Less than 90 and/or  Less than 60
Normal Less than 120 and Less than 80
Elevated 120 to 129 and Less than 80
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension Stage 1) 130 to 139 or 80 to 89
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension Stage 2) 140 or higher or 90 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis Higher than 180 and/or Higher than 120
Source: American Heart Association and the UK National Health Service Do you know how to check BP at home? Read on to know. 
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How to Measure BP at Home Using Digital BP Monitors?

The device used to measure your blood pressure is called a sphygmomanometer. This device can be of two types – manual and digital, with digital BP monitors gaining prominent usage in the past few decades. With the easy availability of digital BP monitors, it is now possible for anyone to measure their blood pressure in the comfort of their home. 

Most digital BP monitors measure BP by the oscillometric technique, wherein the vibrations in the arterial wall caused by the blood flowing through an artery between systolic and diastolic pressures are measured.

The majority of digital BP monitors are upper arm devices, although wrist BP measuring devices are also widely available. 

Upper arm digital BP monitors usually consist of a monitor and an arm cuff. 

Here are the steps for home-BP measurement using an upper arm digital BP monitor:

  1. Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit, preferably a chair with good back support and a table or desk to rest your arm on.
  2. Sit undisturbed for 3 to 5 minutes before taking a BP measurement.
  3. Place your feet flat on the floor and rest your arm on the table, positioned at your heart level. 
  4. Lean back comfortably and stretch out your arm. 
  5. Place the cuff of the monitor on your bare upper arm. 
  6. The cuff should be placed on your arm at the same level as your heart. The bottom edge of the cuff should be 1 to 2 cm above the elbow.
  7. Make sure the tube attached to the cuff falls over the front centre of your arm. There is usually a marker on the cuff to indicate the centre.
  8. Tighten the cuff comfortably around your arm. There should only be enough space to slip two fingertips under the top edge of the cuff. 
  9. Press the start button on the monitor and remain calmly seated while the machine measures your BP. 
  10. The cuff will inflate automatically and then slowly deflate for the reading to be complete.
  11. The monitor will display your blood pressure and pulse on the digital panel. 
  12. If you wish to take another measurement, wait for about 2 to 3 minutes before doing so.
  13. It is recommended that you use the same arm for the measurement of BP every time. 
  14. Avoid bathing, drinking alcohol, consuming caffeine, smoking, exercising or eating for 30 minutes before taking a BP measurement.

Are Digital BP Monitors Accurate?

Yes, digital BP monitors are accurate, provided they have been validated clinically and meet the quality standards set by relevant national or international hypertension organisations. 

The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), the British Hypertension Society (BHS), and the European Society of Hypertension (ESH) have established protocols in place for the pre-licensing of commercially available BP measuring devices. 

In a policy statement released in 2016, the World Hypertension League, the International Society of Hypertension and supporting hypertension organisations (including the Indian Society of Hypertension) have recommendations to regulate the manufacturing and marketing of blood pressure devices and cuffs.

In the policy statement, the primary recommendation is to the private sector to “manufacture and sell only: (1) automated BP devices that have been independently tested to meet the international validation standard or national protocols for accuracy with the detailed results either (a) published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, (b) publically accessible, or (c) verified by a government agency…”

The statement also makes a recommendation to governmental organisations to “develop policies and regulations to allow only the sale of:(1) automated BP devices that have been independently tested to meet the international validation standard or national protocols for accuracy with the detailed results either (a) published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, (b) publically accessible, or (c) verified by a government agency…

Digital BP monitors that satisfy the criteria outlined in the policy statement can be considered safe and accurate. 

Omron blood pressure monitors are proven to be accurate. All Omron BP monitors:

  • Meet the highest standards of precision and reliability from organisations such as AAMI or ESH
  • Are powered by the Intellisense® Technology, which can automatically personalise the cuff inflation to ensure fast, accurate, and comfortable BP measurement.
  • Are clinically validated to be within +/- 3 mm Hg for blood pressure readings. 

You can buy Omron BP monitors here

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Blood pressure (BP) is the force exerted by blood on the walls of your arteries. It is measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). 
  • When your blood pressure is constantly high or low over a period of time, you may be diagnosed with high or low blood pressure.
  • Normal blood pressure is less than or equal to 120/80 mm Hg. A blood pressure of 90/60 mm Hg or less is considered to be low blood pressure. A blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher is considered to be high blood pressure. 
  • You can easily measure your blood pressure at home. Digital BP monitors are accurate, provided they have been validated clinically and meet the quality standards set by relevant national or international hypertension organisations. 
  • Omron BP monitors meet the highest standards of precision and reliability, are powered by the Intellisense® Technology, and are clinically validated to be within +/- 3 mm Hg for blood pressure readings. 

Frequently Asked Questions

A normal resting pulse rate or heart rate should be between 60 to 100 beats per minute.

Episodes of anxiety can cause dramatic and temporary spikes in blood pressure. Those with anxiety and stress may also engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, drinking and overeating, which can raise blood pressure levels. However, anxiety does not cause long-term high blood pressure.

The symptoms of low blood pressure include fading vision, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, nausea, and trouble concentrating. Most people with high blood pressure have no symptoms until the blood pressure readings reach extremely high levels. Some people may have headaches, nosebleeds, and shortness of breath. The most accurate way of determining if your blood pressure is high or low is by measuring it with a BP monitor. You can easily learn how to check BP at home. 

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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