How can I be sure I have high blood pressure?

Follow these tips to help make sure that your blood pressure reading is accurate.

  • Don't smoke or drink caffeinated beverages for at least 30 minutes before the test.
  • Sit in a chair that supports your back. (If you are sick, your blood pressure can be measured while you're lying down.)
  • Rest for at least 5 minutes before the test begins.
  • Bare your upper arm, and make sure it's supported at about heart level.
  • Don't talk or cross your legs when your blood pressure is being taken.

High blood pressure usually does not cause symptoms. However, some people who have high blood pressure report feeling a flushed face or vague headaches. The only way to know if you have it is to get your blood pressure checked. Blood pressure testing is painless and takes only a few minutes. See how is blood pressure measured? to learn more.

If you have never been diagnosed with high blood pressure and you do not have any serious medical conditions, you should have your blood pressure checked by your doctor at least once every 2 years. If your blood pressure is high, more frequent testing will help your doctor monitor your blood pressure and determine whether you need treatment for high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you may also want to monitor your blood pressure at home. See how can I check my blood pressure at home? to learn more.

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