Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the most common conditions, and knowing how to monitor it correctly is one of the most important ways to keep it under control.

Monitoring your blood pressure not only helps you know whether your treatment and the lifestyle changes recommended by your doctor are working, it can also be an incentive to assume greater control over your health and take better decisions about your care. And most importantly, it can help you stay healthy and prevent complications.

Below we offer you some recommendations to help you check your blood pressure correctly.

  • Don’t eat or drink anything, especially caffeine, 30 minutes before checking your blood pressure.
  • Urinate before taking a reading.
  • Sit in a comfortable chair with a supportive backrest for at least 5 minutes prior to the reading.
  • Place both feet on the ground and don’t cross your legs.
  • Rest the arm where you placed the cuff on a table at chest height. You may need to place a pillow or cushion under your arm to bring it to the desired height.
  • Make sure the cuff is snug but not too tight. Moreover, you may need a larger cuff if your arm doesn’t fit in the one provided.
  • Place the cuff over your skin, not over your clothes.
  • Don’t talk while taking your blood pressure.
  • Once the machine is done, check the numbers. If you think there’s an error or want to double check the reading, wait 2-3 minutes before measuring again.
  • Always check your blood pressure at the same time, as well as at various times throughout the day, to see how your medications are working.

What do the numbers in the reading mean?

Below we offer you some guidelines to help you interpret the reading in your blood pressure monitor. Remember, your blood pressure is expressed as a set of two numbers. For example: 100/70 mm Hg. The number at the top represents your systolic blood pressure (this is the blood pressure in the artery when the heart contracts), while the number at the bottom represents your diastolic pressure (this is the blood pressure in the artery when your heart relaxes between beats).

BLOOD PRESSURE LEVELSYSTOLIC mm Hg (top number)and/orDIASTOLIC mm Hg (bottom number)
NORMALLESS THAN 120andLESS THAN 80
ELEVATED120 – 129andLESS THAN 80
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION) STAGE 1130 – 139or80 – 89
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION) STAGE 2140 OR HIGHERor90 OR HIGHER
HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS (seek help immediately)OVER 180and/orOVER 120