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.
For most people, it takes more than 1 high blood pressure reading to diagnose high blood pressure. 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.
Sometimes people become anxious at the doctor's office. This may result in a higher than normal blood pressure reading. You may be asked to measure your blood pressure at home or in another location.
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.
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_UCM_301873_Article.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__more/catalog_guidelines_and_more/catalog_guidelines/catalog_cardiovascular_guidelines/hypertension. Published 2010. Accessed February 28, 2014.
Last reviewed September 2014 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.