Measuring Blood pressure - both art and science

Not so easy to get right, and not just the push of a button. It is important to get this right, Over-treating blood pressure can lead to dizziness and falls, but under-treating blood pressure risks heart failure and strokes.

How to take your blood pressure:

"Just take your blood pressure at home”. Easy for me to say, and I do say it to my patients as “white coat hypertension” is real, in almost all patients that I meet. Perhaps I am a scary doctor and I don’t know it!!

The art to taking blood pressure.

There is an art to taking your blood pressure. Follow the steps below to take an accurate measurement of your blood pressure.

Step 1:

Is your machine validated? A cuff on the the upper arm is better than one on the wrist, or even a guess from your finger! Has it been serviced? A good blood pressure machine costs over £40.

Step 2:

Does the cuff actually fit? One size does not fit all.


You are skinny, and the cuff is too big: you are underestimating your blood pressure by 3-4 mmHg

You have a very big arm and need an extra large cuff, but only have a standard cuff- you are overestimating the blood pressure by up to 20mmHg.

Step 3:

And which arm? I will initially ask you to do it in BOTH arms. Normally there is no big difference, but I will then ask you to measure in the arm with the HIGHER readings.

Step 4:

Rest for a few minutes with the correct size cuff on, and the arm relaxed.

Then press the button - and record the reading:

Systolic blood pressure: The top reading

Diastolic blood pressure: The bottom reading

Heart rate: if the machine is clever enough it would recognise if was the heart rate regular or irregular.


Wait a few minutes and repeat.

Then wait a few minutes and repeat

Step 5:

Now that you have taken your blood pressure.

What was it?

You could take the average of all readings.

Dr Iqbal Malik prefers that the patients write down the LOWEST systolic blood pressure and then write down the diastolic blood pressure that went with it, even if it was not the lowest.