A blood pressure test monitors your blood pressure, a measure of the force of blood inside your arteries. Blood pressure should be measured regularly as a part of routine physical exam to screen for high blood pressure (hypertension), which can lead to a number of complications such as stroke and heart disease.
A blood pressure test should be done at least once every 2 years. If you have additional risk factors such as family history of high blood pressure and heart disease, you should monitor your blood pressure more often. In addition, blood pressure tests may be used to monitor the effectiveness of certain medications or lifestyle changes in lowering blood pressure.
Risks and precautions
There are no risks or complications related to the blood pressure test. You may however experience some discomfort from the blood pressure cuff.
Before the test
You should wear a short-sleeved shirt to your blood pressure test. Go to the washroom to empty your bladder before the test and avoid drinking caffeinated beverages, eating, and smoking for about one hour before the test. You should not exercise for about half an hour before the test. Both your feet should be on the floor for at least 5 minutes before you start the test.
If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications, supplements, or herbal products, make sure you inform your doctor or pharmacist. Ask them whether it is necessary for you to stop taking any of these medications and products before the test. It is also important to tell them if you have allergies to certain medications or have certain medical conditions.