How to take your blood pressure at home
As there often aren’t any obvious symptoms of high blood pressure, a test is the only way to find out if your blood pressure is too high.
Some of the services and treatments we offer require your blood pressure to be taken before a pharmacist can then dispense the treatment. This is to make sure it is safe to prescribe this treatment to you.
The combined contraceptive pill and acne treatment bundles that include the Clairette (a variant of the combined contraceptive pill), would require your blood pressure to be taken.
This can usually be done in-pharmacy, however under certain circumstances this may not be possible. We may ask you to take these measurements yourselves using a home monitor which can be purchased or borrowed.
Read our advice below on how to take your blood pressure.
When to take blood pressure
Before you start your blood pressure there are a few things you can do to make sure the reading is accurate.
Prior to taking the reading make sure you:
- don’t need the loo
- haven’t just eaten a big meal
- haven’t had a caffeinated drink in the last 30 minutes
- are wearing loose-fitting clothing so you can roll up your sleeve
- always use the same arm for your readings
- rest for 5 minutes prior to the reading
- have your arm is supported and that the cuff around your arm is same level as your heart
How to use a blood pressure monitor
The British Heart Foundation has informative advice and self-help video to guide you through taking your own blood pressure. Follow the simple steps below to have the best chance at an accurate reading.
1: In order for it to be an accurate reading it’s important that you’re resting and that you’re not feeling anxious or stressed.
2: Sit upright in a chair, your back against the back of the chair, and place your feet flat on the floor.
3: Rest your arm on a table if you have one and just make sure your hand and arm are relaxed on the table. It’s important that you don’t clench your fist when you’re taking your blood pressure.
4: Place the cuff over your upper arm and tighten the cuff over your arm, making sure you can fit two fingers underneath the cuff. You want the cuff to be over the upper part of your arm with the tubing leading down the centre or slightly to the right of your arm.
5: When you check your blood pressure, don’t talk and just relax. Press the on button, and then press the start button.
6: You’ll feel the cuff inflate quite rapidly. It may temporarily be a bit tender or uncomfortable for, as the cuff inflates and deflates automatically, but this will only be for a short period of time. If it is too tender/uncomfortable you can just press the ‘Stop’ button and the cuff will instantly deflate.
7: Once you get your reading, make a note of the reading. Some blood pressure machines now come with a printer. This allows you to stick your print outs in your diary.
8: A few minutes after you’ve taken your blood pressure, it’s a good idea to check it again, to make sure the readings are similar and accurate.
What not to do when taking your own blood pressure
Don’t round your measurements up or down. If you don’t keep accurate readings it could affect the treatment you are prescribed.
Don’t be alarmed by an unexpected high reading, a one-off high reading may be nothing to worry about. If you measure your blood pressure again and it remains high over a period of time, contact your GP.
Don’t check your blood pressure too often, this might make you stressed about little changes to your readings. Worrying about blood pressure could make it higher.
Changes to our service - coronavirus
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, blood pressure tests cannot be carried out by a pharmacist and we understand that this makes things difficult.
You will now be asked about your blood pressure during your consultation and will not be requested to provide home readings in-store or get in-store checks.
We'll still make sure it is safe to prescribe you your contraception, but the process will be easier. Please be aware that national guidelines have been updated to allow for more flexibility around blood pressure measurements.
For more information on coronavirus head to our advice pages.