Locations:
Search IconSearch

Have High Blood Pressure? Here’s How to Make the Most of Your At-Home Monitoring

Tips for taking and tracking accurate blood pressure measurements

High Blood Pressure Home Monitoring

If you have hypertension or are at risk for it, your doctor might recommend keeping closer tabs on your blood pressure.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Routinely checking your blood pressure at home can help you and your doctor gauge how well treatments are working, as well as offer reassurance that your blood pressure is staying at a safe level.

With $40 to $60, you should be able to purchase a home blood pressure monitor that’s easy to use and accurate. But it’s still a good idea to bring your new monitor with you to your next doctor’s appointment to confirm that it’s giving accurate readings that closely align with your doctor’s professional-grade monitor.

Preventive cardiologist Luke Laffin, MD, suggests that anyone who’s had a recent change to their medication check their blood pressure three or four times a week. Once it’s confirmed that your medications are working, you won’t need to do it quite as frequently.

“There is some data showing that if you have hypertension but it’s relatively well controlled, a couple times a month is perfectly fine,” he says.

How to take your own blood pressure

The best time to take your blood pressure is first thing in the morning, before taking your medications, according to Dr. Laffin. “I tell people to get up, go to the bathroom, brush their teeth and then go to wherever they’re going to take their blood pressure,” he says.

That spot should be a place where you can sit up straight with your back supported, your feet flat on the ground and your arm resting at a comfortable level.

It doesn’t really matter which arm you use to take your blood pressure, Dr. Laffin says, but it’s best to use the same arm each time. (As a side note, it’s normal for your blood pressure reading to be slightly higher in one arm than the other.)

Each time you sit down to take your blood pressure, follow these steps:

  • Sit at rest for at least 90 seconds.
  • Push the button to take a reading.
  • Sit for another 60 to 90 seconds.
  • Take a second reading.
  • Sit for another 60 to 90 seconds.
  • Take a third reading.
  • Average the three readings, and record that number in a notebook or journal.

Help your doctor help you

It’s important to keep a good record of these measurement to show your doctor, who can help determine if your medication is doing its job. Doing this will also reveal longer-term trends in your blood pressure.

Dr. Laffin recommends logging this information each time:

  • Average of your three blood pressure readings
  • Heart rate at the time of the reading
  • Time of day it was taken
  • Any other symptoms you are feeling at that time

Advertisement

How long does it take for a new blood pressure medicine to start working? “Oftentimes you’ll see results within a few days, but to get the peak effect, you usually have to be on medicine for 10 to 14 days,” he says.

When to call your doctor

It’s normal for blood pressure to fluctuate throughout the day, so there’s no need to panic if you get an occasional reading that seems high. “Really, we worry most significantly about blood pressure when it’s elevated for a prolonged period of time,” Dr. Laffin explains.

If your systolic blood pressure (the top number in your reading) is consistently higher than 180 mmHg, that’s something worth calling your doctor about.

“If at any time you’re having these high blood pressures and also having chest pressure, chest pain, headaches or shortness of breath, you should be seen by a doctor more urgently,” he says.

To hear more from Dr. Laffin on this topic, listen to the Health Essentials Podcast episode “Combating High Blood Pressure.” New episodes of the Health Essentials Podcast publish every Wednesday.

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person reclining on couch wearing compression socks
April 3, 2024/Heart Health
How To Raise Your Blood Pressure Immediately at Home

First things first — slowly sit or lie down

A wooden spoonful of salt on a granite tabletop with salt scattered around
February 28, 2024/Nutrition
Why Too Much Salt Can Be Bad for You

Excess salt and sodium consumption is a worldwide health concern

Blood pressure cuff on arm and blood pressure-reading device
February 27, 2024/Heart Health
Here’s What Your Blood Pressure Numbers Mean

An ideal blood pressure is less than 120 mm Hg systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic

beet and carrot juice in a glass surrounded by beets and carrots
February 1, 2024/Heart Health
Can Certain Drinks Lower Your Blood Pressure?

While not magic elixirs, some drinks like beet juice and skim milk may help keep numbers down

Closeup of hands holding a glass of water and an aspirin
January 16, 2024/Heart Health
Can Aspirin Lower Blood Pressure?

Don’t believe the rumors about aspirin being a magic way to lower BP

Person using electronic blood pressure monitor at home.
November 6, 2023/Heart Health
Buying a Home Blood Pressure Monitor? 6 Things You Need To Know

Steer clear of bells and whistles — simple, affordable monitors are all you really need

doctor showing heart rate and blood pressure watch monitor
October 31, 2023/Heart Health
The Relationship Between Your Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Both are related to your cardiovascular system, and both can impact the other

Person waking up tired.
February 12, 2023/Heart Health
How a Lack of Sleep Contributes to High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure naturally dips when we sleep — and that dipping is crucial for a healthy heart

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad