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How to take your blood pressure

How to take your blood pressure

Use the right size cuff, wear it properly, keep good posture, and relax.

1. Use the proper size cuff

Use a blood pressure cuff that fits the circumference of the middle of your upper arm.

As a general guide:

  • An adult cuff fits a circumference of 27cm – 34cm.
  • A large adult cuff fits a circumference of 35cm – 44cm.
  • An adult thigh cuff fits a circumference of 45cm – 52cm.

Using a cuff that is too small for your arm can give you a blood pressure reading that is falsely high.

2. Apply the cuff properly

Apply the cuff:

  • Snugly against your bare skin and not over clothing.
  • So its lower border is an inch above your elbow crease.

Follow the instructions/illustrations on your blood pressure cuff or in the manual to be sure the cuff is positioned correctly on your arm. Applying the cuff too tightly can give you a blood pressure reading that is falsely high.

3. Keep the cuff at heart level

Keep your arm slightly flexed and supported with the cuff at heart level.

  • If your arm is unsupported, your blood pressure can read falsely high.
  • If the cuff is above heart level, your blood pressure can read falsely low.
  • If the cuff is below heart level, your blood pressure can read falsely high.

4. Maintain proper posture

Sit in a chair with your:

  • Back supported
  • Legs uncrossed
  • Feet flat on the floor

5. Rest and relax

  • Sit and relax for 5 minutes before taking your blood pressure.
  • Don’t talk while your taking your blood pressure.
  • Wait one full minute between multiple measurements.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes after any nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, other stimulants.
  • Wait at least 60 minutes after any strenuous exercise.
Sources:
ACSM’s Health-Related Physical Fitness Assessment Manual, 2nd ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008.
American Heart Association



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