Graham Beaton BHSc, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition that will affect most people during their lifetime. Because high blood pressure rarely exhibits symptoms, it is important to have your blood pressure checked at routine appointments with your medical/naturopathic doctor, or to have it monitored regularly if you have high blood pressure. One way of monitoring blood pressure regularly is by using a home blood pressure monitor. To do so accurately, one needs only to follow the simple steps outlined below.

Step 1 – Choosing a home blood pressure monitoring device
There are several devices that can be purchased at pharmacies and other stores in Ottawa that can reliably take blood pressure readings. While there are many different blood pressure monitors to choose from, you can find ones validated by the Canadian Hypertension Society at or look for boxes marked with the following symbol:

When choosing a device, it is very important that you chose one that has a cuff that fits you. If you chose one that is too big, blood pressure readings will be falsely low, and if you chose one that is too small, blood pressure readings will be falsely high. Depending on the manufacturer, some might specify directions for choosing proper sizing, or you may need to refer to the following sizing chart:

Arm circumference chart for blood pressure cuff

Step 2 – Using the device that you have chosen
Before using the blood pressure monitor, familiarize yourself with how to properly use the device. This includes closely following the instructions provided by the manufacturer on how to apply the blood pressure cuff.

When ready to use the cuff, there are several additional guidelines to follow. They are:

  • Sit in a calm, warm environment for 5 minutes prior to taking your blood pressure
  • Make sure that you are not anxious, stressed or in pain
  • Do not exercise prior to taking the reading
  • Wait at least 2 hours following vigorous exercise
  • Wait at least 30 minutes following light physical activity
  • Do not drink coffee, smoke or use decongestants for 1 hour prior to taking the reading
  • Ensure that you do not have to go to the washroom
  • Do not speak while taking the reading

Seating position

  • Sit with your back supported
  • Legs uncrossed with both feet flat on the floor
  • Cuff should be positioned at mid-arm and at heart level
  • Arm should be supported when taking blood pressure

Step 3 – Recording your values
To properly record your blood pressure values after you have purchased your blood pressure monitor, take two measurements in the morning and in the evening for 7 consecutive days. Single readings and the results obtained on the first day should not be considered when assessing for hypertension. After the initial seven day period, the average of two measurements should be kept for assessment. If you are medicated, take blood pressure in the morning prior to taking blood pressure medication.

For home monitoring, average daily blood pressure equal to or over 135/85 mmHg is considered elevated.

Taking your blood pressure at home is a safe and effective way to monitor your health and to monitor the effectiveness of blood pressure therapy. By following the steps above, you can play an active role in monitoring and controlling your blood pressure and lowering your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Graham Beaton is the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine practicing at Common Ground Collaborative Care in downtown Ottawa. If you have questions about healthy blood pressure, hypertension, or how Naturopathic Medicine can help, please call Graham at 613-290-6115.