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Hypertension is often diagnosed during a routine visit to your doctor. Blood pressure is measured using a cuff around your arm and a device called a sphygmomanometer. Your doctor may ask you to sit quietly for five minutes before checking your blood pressure.

Placement of Blood Pressure Cuff
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If your blood pressure reading is high, a second measurement will be done a few minutes later. If your blood pressure is still high, you will probably be asked to come back for repeat blood pressure checks. High blood pressure diagnosis will be made when you have readings over 140/90 mm Hg during three separate visits.

Some people’s blood pressure goes up when they are at the doctor’s office. Your doctor may advise you to get some blood pressure readings at home. In some cases, you may be asked to wear an ambulatory blood pressure monitor. This device measures your blood pressure regularly throughout the day as you go about your activities. It is usually worn for 24 hours, even while sleeping.

Revision Information

  • How high blood pressure is diagnosed. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/SymptomsDiagnosisMonitoringofHighBloodPressure/How-High-Blood-Pressure-is-Diagnosed%5FUCM%5F301873%5FArticle.jsp. Updated May 28, 2013. Accessed February 28, 2014.

  • How is high blood pressure diagnosed?. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/diagnosis.html. Updated August 2, 2012. Accessed February 28, 2014.

  • Hypertension. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 12, 2014. Accessed February 28, 2014.

  • Hypertension diagnosis and treatment (guideline). Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement website. Available at: https://www.icsi.org/guidelines%5F%5Fmore/catalog%5Fguidelines%5Fand%5Fmore/catalog%5Fguidelines/catalog%5Fcardiovascular%5Fguidelines/hypertension. Published 2010. Accessed February 28, 2014.