How to Use a Blood Pressure Monitor


Measuring blood pressure using an electronic blood pressure monitor is simple and can give accurate result if you can follow a few simple steps. However the most accurate method is using a mercury manometer, which is still used in many doctor's office where more precise readings are required. Furthermore a mercury manometer does not require any calibration. Its biggest drawback is ease of use. It requires the use of a stethoscope which can be a pain if one does not have the training.

Here are a list of things you need to know when taking your own blood pressure at home.

  • Make sure the cuff fit properly. If the cuff is too small, this would result in a high reading.
  • Do not smoke 30 minutes prior to taking a reading.
  • Sit back comfortably, relax, and take a few deep breaths prior to measurement.
  • Make sure you are not too cold or hot.
  • Both arms should be at the same level as the heart. Just cross both arms across your chest, or you can rest both arms on a table. If you are using a wrist blood pressure monitor, then your wrist should be at the same as the heart.
  • Position the hose on the cuff right over the brachial artery in the inside of your arm. The cuff should be about half a inch above the elbow.
  • Do not move or talk during measurement.
  • Use an upper arm blood pressure monitor if you have one. It is more accurate than the wrist type.

If you want to double check the reading, wait a minute before doing it again. Use the same arm as readings from the left arm and right arm may differ by as much as 10mmHg.

If you want to log your readings, log the time and any special events happened prior to the measurement. People tend to have higer blood pressure after waking up or a big meal.

The following table shows the adult blood pressure classifications.

CategorySystolic (mmHg)Diastolic (mmHg)
Normal90 - 11960 - 79
Prehypertenson120 - 13980 - 89
Stage 1 hypertension140 - 15990 - 99
Stage 2 hypertension160 - 179100 - 109
Hypertensive crisis≥180≥ 110