High Blood Pressure Detection

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 heart.

  • 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 the results.

  • Ask the doctor or nurse to tell you the blood pressure reading in numbers.

For more information, go to:

 This information has been provided with the kind permission of the National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov)

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Last Editorial Review: 5/9/2003