How to measure Blood pressure accurately with a digital home blood pressure monitor

To measure blood pressure accurately with a digital home blood pressure monitor one should take care of the following:

  • Avoid smoking, taking alcohol or caffeine for at least 30 minutes before taking Blood Pressure. Taking alcohol, caffeine, and smoking cause an increase in blood pressure reading.
  • Sit comfortably for at least 5-10 minutes before taking blood pressure with back supported, and feet uncrossed on the floor. Do not talk. Breathe regularly while readings are being taken. Diastolic blood pressure increases in a seated position and crossing legs and laying down increases systolic blood pressure.
  • The cuff on the upper arm should be at the level of heart. If the arm is below the level of the heart the reading will be higher. If above then the reading will be too low. Raise the arm on the pillow to bring it to heart level while laying on the bed (that is halfway between the bed and the chest).
  • Remove clothing from the arm on which BP has to be taken. Tight clothing may compress the blood vessels. Ideally left arm is used as it is closer to the heart. The arm should be resting on the table with the palm facing upward. If the arm is unsupported then the pressure will be higher.

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  • The cuff bladder should encircle 80% of the arm circumference (more than two third of the arm) The width of the cuff should be 40% of the arm circumference. A cuff that is too short or too narrow may give a false high reading.
  • The tubing of the bladder should be at the middle of the front of the elbow, downward, and facing your body. Keep the monitor on the table or at a flat surface.
  • Wrap the cuff one inch above the elbow joint and press the power button on your digital monitor. The cuff will be inflated automatically and monitor will show the blood pressure and pulse counts immediately.
  • Two readings should be taken with at least one-minute interval in between them.
  • Blood pressure should be taken on both arms at least once. Normally there is a difference of 5mm of Hg, sometimes up to 10 mm. The difference of more than 15 mm of mercury is not normal and should be investigated further. Subsequent measurements should be taken on the arm that gave a higher reading.

Blood pressure categories in adults

According to ACC / American heart association’ s guidelines for Hypertension 2017

Blood Pressure Category Systolic BP (mm Hg)
upper number
Diastolic BP (mm Hg)
lower number
Normal blood pressure Less than 120 andLess than 80
Elevated blood pressure 120-129 andless than 130/80
High blood pressure
Hypertension stage 1
130-139 or80-89
High blood pressure
Hypertension stage 2
140 or more or 90 or more
Hypertension crises
(See medical attention immediately)
Higher than 180 and/orHigher than 120

Note: If systolic and diastolic blood pressure falls into two different categories then the higher blood pressure category is recorded.

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July 19, 2022

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