The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually given to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions. For hypertension, everyone is screened as part of a normal physical since the test is fairly harmless and easy to do.
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.
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 2 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.
Heart-health screenings. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/ConsumerHealthCare/Heart-Health-Screenings_UCM_428687_Article.jsp. Updated August 30, 2016. Accessed September 20, 2016.
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. Updated September 10, 2015. Accessed September 20, 2016.
Hypertension. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115345/Hypertension. Updated August 29, 2016. Accessed September 20, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2017 by Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACP
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.