How to monitor your blood pressure

Patsy Westcott / 18 November 2016

High blood pressure has few obvious symptoms, but can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and dementia. Read our guide to keeping on top of it.

Visit your GP

The doctor, practice nurse or healthcare assistant can take a blood pressure (BP) reading. Some surgeries also have DIY machines.  

Ask your pharmacist

Trained staff will measure your blood pressure. Lloyds, for example, offers a free drop-in service – no appointment needed.

Pressure Station (Know Your Numbers Week)

Held in the second week of September, this awareness initiative, run by the charity Blood Pressure UK, provides healthcare professionals to test your BP in supermarkets, shops, garages, pharmacies, gyms, shopping centres, churches, even bus depots. 

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Buy a home kit

There are many different home blood-pressure monitors, but top models include:

Omron M2 Basic Arm Blood Pressure Monitor HEM-7120 (£21). Scoring 95% in a Which? test, this machine is easy-to-use with large buttons and clear display.

Kinetik Advanced Blood Pressure Monitor BPx1TL (approx £29.99). Takes an average of three readings, as recommended by the British Hypertension Society. It also detects an irregular heartbeat and highlights when to seek medical advice.

HoMedics Deluxe Arm Blood Pressure Monitor (BPA-3000 EU),  (approx £39.99). Includes an easy-to-read colour indicator based on World Health Organisation guidelines, detects irregular heart rates and has 120 memory spaces for two users.

Alternatively, ask your GP for an ambulatory BP monitoring kit – a small machine attached to a belt and connected to a cuff around your arm. It captures BP over the course of the day and is considered the most accurate way to check it.

Know your numbers

Your blood pressure reading includes:

  • Systolic (upper figure) - the pressure as your heart pumps out blood.
  • Diastolic (lower figure) - the pressure when your heart relaxes between beats.
  • Low blood pressure: 90/60 mmHG or lower
  • Optimum blood pressure: 90/60-120/80 mmHG
  • High blood pressure: 140/90 mmHG or greater, or an average of 135/85 mmHG at home.

Learn more about blood pressure numbers

Curb your blood pressure now

BP reading between 120/80 and 140/90mmHG? You have pre-high blood pressure. Try these steps to bring it down:

10 tips to lower your blood pressure

Lose weight, if necessary

A reduction of just 4kg (around 9lb) can reduce systolic BP by an average of 4.5 mmHG and diastolic BP by 3 mmHG.

Get fit

Regular exercise can reduce systolic BP by an average of 4-9mm HG. It takes around three months to see results.

Watch what you eat and drink

Slash the salt – no more than 5g/day - and cut down on alcohol and caffeine.

The best foods to eat for blood pressure

Try an app

ESH CARE (YouCo), the only hypertension app validated and supported by The European Society of Hypertension (ESH). Allows you to record and monitor your blood pressure and has tips on blood-pressure reducing diet and exercise.

Find out more

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The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.