Step 11: Monitor Your Blood Pressure at Home   Next Page

A number of home tests are available for checking blood pressure between doctor visits:

  • Manual cuffs and stethoscopes are fairly accurate, but they require practice to use, and the cuff must be the right size. (One size does not fit all.)
  • Devices that use a digital readout with a cuff that can be electronically inflated and deflated are proving to be as accurate as those that require a stethoscope.
  • Devices that take the pressure from the finger are NOT reliable and tend to be very inaccurate.

Take Action!

Get a reliable device to use at home -- it will help you control your pressure and reduce your risk of heart attack and other problems.

A physician may fit a patient with a portable unit that records blood pressure during a full day's activity. This test, known as ambulatory monitoring, is particularly useful for those who experience wide blood pressure swings and those who believe they have white coat hypertension.

Blood pressure variations

In general, everyone's blood pressure varies throughout a given day:

  • Blood pressure is usually highest at work.
  • It drops slightly at home.
  • It normally dips to its lowest level during sleep.
  • Upon waking, pressure in most people typically increases suddenly. In people with severe high blood pressure, this is the highest risk period for heart attack and stroke.


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Review Date: June 3, 2003

Reviewed By: Jacqueline A. Hart, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Harvard University and Senior Medical Editor, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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