How Can I Check My Blood Pressure at Home Without a Machine?

Reviewed on 6/3/2021

Checking your blood pressure
The most accurate way to measure blood pressure is using a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff or machine) and stethoscope.

While there are ways you can check your blood pressure at home using only your pulse and no equipment, these methods are unreliable and not recommended. For example, there are apps available on the market that can estimate your blood pressure through your phone camera. You place your finger over the camera and wait until your blood pressure reading flashes on the screen. However, these apps aren’t approved by the FDA and not accurate or consistent.

What is the best way to measure blood pressure?

The most accurate way to measure blood pressure is using a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff or machine) and stethoscope. When you get your blood pressure measured at a medical office, your doctor uses a sphygmomanometer that includes a dial or column, pump, arm cuff, and stethoscope:

  • The cuff is wrapped around your arm while your arm is kept at the same level as your heart. 
  • The pump tightens the cuff around your arm, putting pressure on the artery.
  • Your doctor then releases the pressure and uses a stethoscope to measure your pulse rate. 
  • Your doctor records the pressure on the dial as your blood starts to flow back to your arm and checks two measurement points to determine your blood pressure reading.

How Can I Check My Blood Pressure at Home Using?

But you don’t need to go to your doctor just to get a blood pressure reading. The easiest way to monitor your own blood pressure at home is to get a machine that has a blood pressure calculator and digital display.

Purchase a blood pressure monitor cuff that wraps around the upper arm. The cuff should fit well, and not be too loose or too tight when not in use. Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because the readings aren’t as reliable. When choosing a blood pressure monitor, take it to your doctor’s office. They may be able to show you how to use it properly and check whether the machine provides accurate readings.

Here are some tips to follow while measuring your blood pressure at home:

  • Before measuring your blood pressure, sit quietly for 5 minutes with your arm relaxed on a supporting surface at the level of your heart.
  • Your back should be supported and both feet should be flat on the floor.
  • The cuff should be positioned on your upper arm as instructed on the guide that came with the monitor. It is easier to use your non-dominant arm (if you’re right-handed, place the cuff on your left arm).
  • Avoid caffeine, smoking, or exercise at least 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Do not take a reading if stressed or angry.

Blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association are as follows:

Blood pressure categories chart defined by the American Heart Association
BP Categories Levels (mm Hg)
Normal 120/80
Prehypertension 20-139/80-90
Stage I hypertension 140-159/90-99
Stage II hypertension 160/100 mm Hg or higher
Hypertensive crisis Above 180/110

SLIDESHOW

How to Lower Blood Pressure: Exercise Tips See Slideshow

How can I control my blood pressure without medication?

If your blood pressure calculator indicates high blood pressure risks, it’s important to start taking appropriate actions: 

Foods that can help control blood pressure include:

  • Olive oil: Olive oil is packed with antioxidants and polyphenols that have tons of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure. Cooking vegetables with olive oil also allows your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins K, A, D, and E. Opt for good quality extra-virgin olive oil for maximum health benefits.
  • Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are a powerful superfood that contains alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid that has been found to lower blood pressure. They can easily be sprinkled on salads, smoothies, or baked goods.
  • Low sodium: Limiting salt in your diet controls the hormones in the body that retain water and increase blood pressure.
  • Potassium: Studies have shown that potassium-rich foods are effective in reducing blood pressure because potassium can help your kidneys flush sodium out of your system. High-potassium foods include bananas, melons, oranges, apricots, leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tuna, salmon, beans, nuts, seeds, and white beans. 
  • Magnesium: Magnesium may help relax blood vessels, making it easier for blood to pass through. Magnesium-rich foods include leafy green vegetables, dairy, chicken, legumes, and whole grains.

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Reviewed on 6/3/2021
References
WebMD. Understanding Low Blood Pressure -the Basics. https://www.webmd.com/heart/understanding-low-blood-pressure-basics#

WebMD. High Blood Pressure Diet. https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/high-blood-pressure-diet