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The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

Screening Tests

Blood Pressure Check

A blood pressure reading measures the amount of pressure in the artery when the heart is pumping (systolic) and at rest (diastolic). This test is quick and painless. A blood pressure cuff is placed around your arm. Air is pumped into the cuff and released while a healthcare professional listens with a stethoscope. Screening for hypertension is easy and done routinely. Blood pressure checks can be done easily in your doctor’s office by a nurse, in some pharmacies, or at home if you buy a blood pressure machine.

Screening Guidelines

The American Heart Association recommends having your blood pressure checked regularly starting at age 20. If your blood pressure is within normal limits, you can have it checked every two years. If you have a higher risk of hypertension or if your blood pressure is near the top of the normal range your doctor may recommend more frequent measurements.

If the reading is high, your doctor will likely recheck it. One high blood pressure reading does not necessarily mean that you have hypertension. Talk to your doctor about how often your blood pressure should be checked.

Revision Information

  • Heart-health screenings. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/ConsumerHealthCare/Heart-Health-Screenings%5FUCM%5F428687%5FArticle.jsp. Updated October 15, 2013. Accessed February 28, 2014.

  • How can high blood pressure be prevented? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/prevention.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.