Your healthcare provider will measure your blood pressure using a blood pressure monitor called a sphygmomanometer . This device, while highly accurate, usually isn't practical for home use.

What do I use to measure my blood pressure?

You can get a validated electronic blood pressure measuring device or an aneroid sphygmomanometer. These devices are available at pharmacies or home health supply stores. Every now and then, you should bring your home monitoring device to your doctor's office so you can compare your results for accuracy.

In rare situations, your doctor may recommend that you use a home ambulatory blood pressure monitor for a short time. These monitors work 24 hours a day. They automatically take your blood pressure every 15 to 30 minutes while you continue your usual activities throughout the day. Readings are then downloaded into a personal computer for analysis. This type of monitoring gives the most accurate picture of your blood pressure. It is especially helpful for people who have white coat hypertension. It can help distinguish those who really need medicine from those who do not. In addition, this type of continuous monitoring can help fine-tune medicine therapy for some patients.

The National High Blood Pressure Education program does not recommend using finger monitors because they are not accurate.

How often should I take measurements?

Talk with your doctor about how often you should measure your own blood pressure. He or she may tell you to take your blood pressure early in the morning before taking your medicine. You may also need to take it later in the day, such as in the afternoon or evening.

What's considered a high reading?

Home readings of 135/85 mm Hg or higher are generally considered high. To learn more see what do the numbers mean?

What do I do with my records?

When you monitor your own blood pressure, be sure to keep a record of the time and results of each of your readings. Take the chart with you to your next appointment with your doctor. That information will help your doctor get an accurate picture of your blood pressure. Be honest. If you aren't, you are only hurting yourself and the people who care about you.