Measuring Blood Pressure


You can get your blood pressure checked at:

  • A doctor's office
  • A pharmacy that has a blood pressure measurement machine
  • Home with a blood pressure monitor


If getting your blood pressure measured by a healthcare provider, they will guide you during the process. But if you're measuring your blood pressure at home or using a machine, these tips will make sure you get the most accurate reading. 

  • Find a blood pressure device on the US Validated Device Listing
  • Talk to your provider about how to use your blood pressure monitor
  • Prepping for a Reading
    • Don't smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within 30 minutes before taking your blood pressure
    • Empty your bladder before your reading
  • Putting on the Cuff Correctly
    • Place cuff directly against skin, not over clothing
    • Bottom of the cuff should be right above the bend of the elbow
    • Cuff should be snug but not too tight.
  • Sitting Correctly
    • In a comfortable chair with back supported for at least 5 minutes before your reading
    • Both feet should be flat on the ground
    • Legs should not be crossed
    • Rest arm with the cuff on a table. Your upper arm should be at heart level.
    • Do not talk while your blood pressure is being measured
  • Measure at the same time every day
  • Take multiple readings 

Learn more about how to measure your blood pressure at home.


Your blood pressure reading has two numbers:

  • Systolic (the first number): the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats
  • Diastolic (the second number): the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats

Blood pressure readings fall under the following categories:

  • Normal
    • Systolic: Less than 120 and
    • Diastolic: Less than 80
  • Elevated 
    • Systolic: 120-129 and
    • Diastolic: Less than 80
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1
    • Systolic: 130-139 or
    • Diastolic: 80-89
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2
    • Systolic: 140 or higher or
    • Diastolic: 90 or higher
  • Hypertensive Crisis (Consult your provider immediately)
    • Systolic: Higher than 190 and/or
    • Diastolic: Higher than 120

High blood pressure must be diagnosed by a healthcare provider. A provider should also evaluate any unusually low blood pressure readings.

Learn more about the numbers and what they mean.

Sources: CDC, American Heart Association