Things to know about blood pressure tests
If you’ve never had your blood pressure checked before, you might be wondering what will happen during your appointment. Below, we’ve answered some burning questions about blood pressure testing to put your mind at ease so you can know what to expect when you visit your local Day Lewis Pharmacy.
What is a blood pressure test?
As the name suggests, a blood pressure test measures your blood pressure. As it’s hard to determine the state of your blood pressure from visible symptoms alone, a blood pressure test is an invaluable resource for GPs and pharmacists, allowing them to get a better picture of your overall health and well being.
How does a blood pressure test work?
A blood pressure test involves an adjustable cuff being wrapped around your upper arm or bicep. This cuff then inflates to tighten around your arm, which may feel uncomfortable for a few seconds until the cuff begins to deflate again. You should remain still and seated during the test without speaking, as movement could affect the results.
Once the blood pressure check is complete, your measurements will appear on a digital display. These measurements will include a larger number, referring to your systolic blood pressure, followed by a smaller number which denotes your diastolic blood pressure. Respectively, these terms refer to the pressure when your heart contracts and relaxes. For example, with a blood pressure of 120/60mmHg, your systolic pressure is 120 and your diastolic pressure is 60.
Since everyone is slightly different, blood pressure is classified into different ranges. These are:
- Low blood pressure: 89/59mmHg or lower
- Healthy blood pressure: between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
- At risk of high blood pressure: between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg
- High blood pressure: 140/90mmHg or higher
Where can I go for a blood pressure test?
To have your blood pressure checked by a medical professional, you can now go to your local Day Lewis Pharmacist either as a walk in or booking an appointment here. If you are over 40 and have not been diagnosed with high blood pressure before, you may qualify for a free NHS blood pressure check. This service can be a far more convenient option during busy periods without the need for waiting for a GP.
If you haven’t visited your local pharmacy for a blood pressure check before, don’t worry our friendly team will be there to help and answer any questions you may have. This is also a good opportunity to familiarise yourself with the location and opening times of your chosen pharmacy so you can plan ahead.
Now that you know how blood pressure testing works, let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about blood pressure checks.
Can I test my blood pressure at home?
Reliable blood pressure monitors can be bought online, on the high street and in your local Day Lewis Pharmacy, making it easier than ever to keep an eye on your blood pressure at home. If you choose to take your blood pressure readings at home, we recommend testing your blood pressure several times over the course of a week and using a mean average to get the most accurate results. This can help to avoid being misled by outliers in the data.
Can you eat before a blood pressure test?
It is advised that you shouldn’t eat or drink anything for at least 30 minutes prior to testing your blood pressure. This is because your blood is involved in the digestive process, and your blood pressure typically drops a little while your body processes food and drink.
However, there are no restrictions as to what you can eat and drink in the day leading up to your blood pressure test. Stick to a healthy, balanced diet and remember to leave 30 minutes after eating and drinking before checking your blood pressure, and your result shouldn’t be affected.
Which arm is best for a blood pressure test?
It’s common for blood pressure to be measured in the left arm, but there is no hard and fast rule that says this has to be the case. It’s actually recommended that you measure blood pressure in both arms the first time you do it, making sure to repeat the measurements and get an average for your left arm and your right. From then onwards, you can dial it back to measuring your blood pressure just in the arm that had the higher reading. This will help you to spot high blood pressure earlier.
If you’re taking your blood pressure because you are experiencing symptoms of high or low blood pressure, rather than as a routine health check, it may be worthwhile taking readings from both arms again. This can give you a more complete picture of your body’s blood pressure.
When should I take my blood pressure?
There is no specific time of day that is best for taking your blood pressure. If you have it done by a pharmacist or GP, you may be restricted to the times available for an appointment, but when measuring your blood pressure at home, it’s best to measure at the same time of day whenever you do it.
This is because your blood pressure will naturally vary throughout the day. For example, your blood pressure will likely be at its lowest immediately after you wake up. Measuring at the same time of day helps to ensure that you are comparing like with like.
How to stay calm during a blood pressure test
All sorts of things can affect your blood pressure reading, but most of them are preventable. One such thing is being anxious or scared – so it’s important to know that there is nothing to be afraid of. Blood pressure checks don’t hurt, although they can feel slightly uncomfortable for a few seconds.
If you’re worried about the results of the test, it can be helpful to reassure yourself about treatment options. Both high and low blood pressure are highly treatable, and your pharmacist will be able to walk you through the options available to help get you back to a healthier blood pressure.