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The only way to know what your blood pressure is is to have it checked
High blood pressure very rarely has any symptoms so the only way to know your blood pressure reading is to have it measured.
It is recommended that you should have your blood pressure checked, as part of an overall cardiovascular risk assessment, at least every 5 years if:
You should also get your blood pressure checked if:
A 'one off' high measurement is not enough to make a diagnosis of high blood pressure. Before any treatment is started you may have your blood pressure closely monitored by your doctor or he / she may want you to monitor your blood pressure at home over a short period of time.
If you are started on any drugs to lower your blood pressure then your doctor / nurse will monitor you closely to see how your blood pressure responds to treatment.
Your blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day, depending on what you are doing.
The 'white coat effect' is when your blood pressure rises at the thought of having your blood pressure taken. To prevent this:
Sometimes your doctor may want you to monitor your blood pressure at home over a period of time. This can be either by 24-hour ambulatory monitoring or by home monitoring. Both these methods tend to produce lower levels than in a clinic setting. These readings can be particularly helpful when diagnosing high blood pressure as well as monitoring your response to treatment.
For some people the ambulatory method can be more helpful than home or clinic measurements as it provides a full 24-hour profile.
Measuring your blood pressure at home tends to produce lower levels than in a clinic setting
These measurements can be used to work out your average day and night-time readings and so establish more accurately if your blood pressure is raised for long periods.
Home monitors allow you to measure your blood pressure yourself.
Advantages include reducing the 'white coat effect' and the ability to have several recordings over a number of days. It also allows you to become involved in your own care and management of your blood pressure.