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How to take your own blood pressure


If taking your blood pressure by yourself and using a standard sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff), follow the instructions below.

picture of young African-American woman beginning to take her own blood pressure by placing blood pressure cuff snugly around her upper arm 1. Wrap blood pressure cuff snugly around your upper arm. Place the stethoscope around your neck.
picture of the woman placing blood pressure meter where she can read it 2. Position the meter so that you can easily read the numbers.
picture of the woman placing stethoscope ear pieces into her ears 3. Place stethoscope ear pieces into your ears. Position the bell of the stethoscope over where you felt the pulsation of your brachial artery. Partially tuck the bell of the stethoscope under the blood pressure cuff directly over the brachial artery.
picture of the woman inflating blood pressure cuff 4. Tighten stopcock on side of bulb. Then, squeeze bulb several times to inflate the cuff. Continue inflating cuff until you reach 180 mm. of pressure (or to 20 points above your last reading).
picture of the woman letting air out of stop-cock 5. Open the stopcock slowly to release air and observe the numbers on the meter. Note the number on the meter when you first heard sound and the number on the meter when you last heard sound.
picture of the woman recording the results of her blood pressure reading 6. Record these two numbers with the higher number on the top and the lower number on the bottom.

How to take your blood pressure if another person is helping you.

If another person is helping you and you are using a standard blood pressure cuff with stethoscope, follow these instructions.

picture of a young man helper assisting the woman with placement of the blood pressure cuff onto her upper arm 1. Have the person assisting you place the blood pressure cuff on your upper arm snugly.
picture of the helper donning a stethoscope 2. Helper should now don stethoscope and place the ear pieces into ears. The blood pressure meter should be fastened to the blood pressure cuff so that the helper can read the numbers.
picture of the helper placing bell of the stethoscope onto bend in arm where brachial pulse can be felt 3. Helper should place the bell of the stethoscope over the area of the brachial artery pulse. Next, he should tighten the stopcock on the bulb and inflate the cuff by squeezing the bulb.
picture of helper slowly releasing air from blood pressure cuff by opening stop-cock 4. After reaching 180 mm. (or 20 points above your last reading), helper should slowly open the stopcock to release the air in the cuff and listen carefully for sound. Record  reading as outlined in steps 5 and 6 above.

How to take your own blood pressure using a battery-operated digital device.

Digital blood pressure machines are nearly as accurate as air-driven ones. If you are using a digital blood pressure device, follow these instructions. Note that a digital blood pressure device should be checked for accuracy every 6 months, comparing results with your doctor's mercury-driven machine.

young woman with digital blood pressure device 1. Apply the blood pressure cuff snugly onto your upper arm about one inch above the crease in the bend of your arm. Velcro closure may be released and reset to tighten cuff as needed.
young woman with digital blood pressure device 2. Sit quietly with your arm straight, palm up and your elbow resting in a relaxed position on the table. Your upper arm should be about the same level as your heart.
 young woman with digital blood pressure device 3. Turn on the machine by pressing the "ON" button. Wait for the blinking heart to appear in the read-out screen, then press the "START" button.
 young woman with digital blood pressure device 4. The cuff will tighten, then slowly release. In less than 60 seconds, your digital blood pressure reading will appear in the read-out screen.
 young woman with digital blood pressure device 5. Your pulse rate (number of heartbeats per minute) will also appear in the read-out screen.
 young woman with digital blood pressure device 6. Record  reading as outlined in steps 5 and 6 above.




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1999-2000; updates: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 Women's Heart Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited. The information contained in this Women's Heart Foundation (WHF) Web site is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment, and WHF recommends consultation with your doctor or health care professional.