Firstly, having one high reading does not necessarily mean you have high blood pressure. Blood pressure naturally fluctuates throughout the day, depending how you are feeling and what is going on around you dramatically affects your blood pressure. With this in mind no single reading is reliable. See this page on white coat hypertension for information on how stress/anxiety affects blood pressure.
Secondly it is important that you have a high quality, calibrated blood pressure monitor. I recommend Omron devices. All Omron blood pressure monitors are excellent quality, I personally use and highly recommend the Omron® 10 Blood Pressure Monitor. Microlife also make high quality BP monitors and they are recommended by the Blood Pressure Association.
Many things can make your BP rise temporarily. You will not get an accurate blood pressure measurement if any of the following apply:
For continuity, always use the same arm for blood pressure measurement, this is because each arm gives you a slightly different reading. It is best to use the arm that your doctor uses when measuring your blood pressure so you can compare readings like for like.
You should sit and relax for five minutes before taking your blood pressure. This should be in a quiet place with no distractions. Ideally sit at a table with your arm resting on the table, your arm and hand should be relaxed and not tensed. It is also important that your feet should be flat on the floor.
Before you sit and relax, follow your blood pressure monitor's instructions and put the cuff around your arm and try to ensure it is approximately at the same height/level as your heart. If it’s not you can perhaps adjust your seat height or support your arm with a cushion.
Once you have relaxed for five minutes, take a blood pressure measurement. It is important to try not to move or talk whilst the monitor is taking a reading.
Once you have your first reading, write it down (why not use our blood pressure log), wait for two minutes and take another reading and then repeat one more time. Many people find the first reading they take is higher than the second and third, so it is a good idea to take three readings each time and then take the average of the three. You can then check your numbers on the blood pressure chart above.
If you are consistently getting readings higher than 120/80 and you haven’t done so already, you should visit your doctor to get your blood pressure checked and confirmed.
Often and actually as standard now in the UK, doctors diagnose high blood pressure via ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. This involves wearing a small 24 hour BP monitor which takes random measurements throughout the 24 hour period.
Once the ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is complete, you take the 24 hour BP monitor back to the doctor who downloads the 24 hour data from the device for analysis and diagnosis.
High Blood Pressure Causes 62% of all Strokes and 49% of all Heart Attacks... Check your BP on the blood pressure chart. If the chart shows you are in the prehypertension or hypertension ranges, do something about it, even if it is just having a chat with your doctor. The blood pressure chart is for all adults regardless of age, as whilst your age rises, the thresholds for prehypertension and hypertension don't! (there is no blood pressure chart by age!) No matter what your age - if your BP is above 140/90 you should set about lowering it. You can record and monitor your readings on our printable blood pressure log.