The diagnosis of high blood pressure can be made by your doctor. Doctors use the average of two or more blood pressure readings. These readings must be taken on two or more occasions when you are sitting and relaxed. High blood pressure is when the average of these readings is 130/80 or more. A person can have high blood pressure if either the top or the bottom number reaches the limit.
To take your blood pressure, the doctor wraps a cuff around your arm as you sit in a chair in the office or clinic. Then the cuff is pumped tight around your arm. The air is let out slowly as the doctor listens through a stethoscope to sounds of your blood flow in your arm. This can also be done with a blood pressure machine that doesn’t need a stethoscope. The doctor will confirm high readings and take an average of all the readings. This is the best way to make sure they are accurate.
Sometimes you can get a more accurate reading at home where you are more comfortable. There are home blood pressure monitors for this purpose. They work in a similar way. The home monitors may be used to take a single reading. Your doctor can also request that you wear a special cuff for one whole day. Blood pressure is then recorded many times throughout the day and night. This helps your doctor see the ups and downs of your blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor will talk to you about treatment. High blood pressure puts you at higher risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
When in doubt, get your blood pressure checked out!