You can find out if you have high blood pressure by having your blood pressure checked regularly. Most doctors will diagnose a person with high blood pressure on the basis of two or more readings, taken on several occasions. A consistent blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher is considered high blood pressure, another term for hypertension.
Some people experience high blood pressure only when they visit the doctor's office. This condition is called "white-coat hypertension." If your doctor suspects this, you may be asked to monitor your blood pressure at home or asked to wear a device called an ambulatory blood pressure monitor. This device is usually worn for 24 hours and can take blood pressure every 30 minutes.
Tips for Having Your Blood Pressure Taken
- Don't drink coffee or smoke cigarettes 30 minutes before having
your blood pressure measured.
- Before the test, sit for five minutes with your back supported
and your feet flat on the ground. Rest your arm on a table at the level of your
- Wear short sleeves so your arm is exposed.
- Go to the bathroom prior to the reading. A full bladder can
change your blood pressure reading.
- Get two readings, taken at least two minutes apart, and average
- Ask the doctor or nurse to tell you the blood pressure reading in numbers.
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This information has been provided with the kind permission of the National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov)