Discharge Instructions: Taking Your Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood 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 health care provider instructs. Take your readings each time in the same way, using the same arm. Here are guidelines for taking your blood pressure. 

1. Relax

  • Wait at least a half hour after smoking, eating, or exercising. Do not drink coffee, tea, soda, or other caffeinated beverages before checking your blood pressure. 

  • Sit comfortably at a table. Place the monitor near you.

  • Rest for a few minutes before you begin.

Man resting before taking his blood pressure.

2. Wrap the Cuff

  • Place your arm on the table, palm up. Put your arm in a position that is level with your heart. Wrap the cuff around your upper arm, just above your elbow. It’s best to wrap the cuff on bare skin, not over clothing.

  • Make sure your cuff fits. If it doesn’t wrap around your upper arm, order a larger cuff. A cuff that is too large or too small can result in an inaccurate blood pressure reading.

Man wrapping the blood pressure cuff around his arm.

3. Inflate the Cuff

  • Pump the cuff until the scale reads 200. 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.

  • If you get a reading that is too high or too low for you, relax for a few minutes. Then do the test again.

Man inflating the blood pressure cuff.

4. Write Down the Results

  • Write down your blood pressure numbers. Mark the date and time. Keep your results in one place, such as a notebook.

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

Man writing down his blood pressure numbers.