How blood pressure istested

Adevice called a sphygmomanometer will be used to measure your blood pressure.

This usually consists of a stethoscope, arm cuff, pump and dial, although automatic devices thatuse sensors and have a digital display are also commonly used nowadays.

It's best to sit down with your back supported and legs uncrossed for the test. You'll usually need to roll up your sleeves or remove any long-sleeved clothing, so the cuff can be placed around your upper arm. Try to relax and avoid talking while the test is carried out.

During the test:

  • you hold out one of your arms so it's at the same level as your heart, and the cuff is placed around it your arm should be supported in this position, such as with a cushion or arm of a chair
  • the cuff is pumped up to restrict the blood flow in your arm this squeezing may feel a bit uncomfortable, but only lasts a few seconds
  • the pressure in the cuffisslowly releasedwhileastethoscope is used to listen toyourpulse (digital devices use sensors todetect vibrations in your arteries)
  • the pressure in the cuffisrecorded at two points asthe blood flow starts toreturn to your armthese measurements are used to give your blood pressure reading (see below)

You can usually find out your result straight away, either from the healthcare professional carrying out the testor onthe digital display.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018