Finding the Best Time to Take Blood Pressure: The Ultimate Guide

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8 min read Updated on September 5, 2023

Similar to many substances in your body and other vitals, your blood pressure changes depending on the time of day. These changes tend not to be too drastic, but it still begs the question, when is the best time of the day for you to measure your blood pressure?

There’s a lot to know in this regard, so this article will focus on when you should take your blood pressure reading each day, the factors that can impact your BP, as well as tips for correct usage.

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What’s the Best Time to Measure Blood Pressure?

Depending on your lifestyle, taking your blood pressure reading in the morning or evening may give you results that are quite different. Let’s talk about both in more detail.

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Considerations for morning blood pressure readings

Close up of a person measuring their blood pressure in the morning

If you have high blood pressure, one of the best reasons to take your measurements in the morning is because high morning blood pressure readings can make it more likely to suffer from a stroke. This is because blood pressure tends to peak in the morning.

Knowing your morning blood pressure can help you and your health care professional make the right choices for management. However, you should avoid taking your blood pressure reading for at least 30 minutes after waking up and doing any of the following:

The morning is a good time to measure your blood pressure at home as it is a good predictor of the complications of elevated blood pressure. Just try to take your blood pressure readings at the same time everyday.

Benefits of evening blood pressure readings

Close up of a man measuring his blood pressure in the evening

People who have blood pressure measurements that are higher at night than in the morning are known as “reverse-dippers.” The time your blood pressure is naturally the highest has the most risk, so checking BP in the evening is best for them.

However, it might be a good idea for many other people to check their blood pressure in the evening as this is when they come back from work feeling the most stressed, and their blood pressure reading might be rather elevated at this point.

However, taking time after work to relax and lie down can have a positive effect on your blood pressure.

For reverse-dippers, the evening can be a good time to measure your blood pressure, but this doesn’t apply to most people.

Consistency is key

For most people, having your blood pressure measured in the morning is the better choice, as long as it isn’t right as you wake up and it is before you eat, have your coffee, or do your morning exercise.

Whether you choose the morning or the evening, it is important that you stick to the same time every day. This makes it easier for you to know when something is wrong because most factors at that same time of day are consistent.

Recommendations for Blood Pressure Monitoring at Home

When taking your blood pressure in your doctor’s office, you might sometimes be diagnosed with high blood pressure, but when you go home and use your home blood pressure monitor, the values are normal. This is called white coat hypertension.

By checking your blood pressure at home, you can get an idea of your “true” blood pressure without the anxiety from the hospital influencing it.

If you’re looking for how to check blood pressure at home, here are the steps that you should follow:

  1. Grab your home blood pressure monitor, a comfortable seat, a quiet location, and a flat surface in front of you.
  2. Sit in the chair with your feet flat on the floor and your back supported.
  3. Put your arm on the surface in front of you. Wear the inflatable cuff on the bare skin of your upper arm right above the elbow. It should be tight, but you should be able to fit two fingers under it. The actual device on the cuff should be in the front and center of your arm.
  4. Now, don’t talk, and press the “Start” button on the monitor.
  5. The blood pressure cuff will inflate and may get tight enough to feel uncomfortable but not painful.
  6. The cuff will eventually start to deflate on its own.
  7. Once the blood pressure measurement is done, the cuff will deflate completely and display the blood pressure reading.
  8. You can take at least two or three readings and then use the average.
  9. You can then enter the reading into your journal or the Cardi Health app.

Overall, there are many different types of blood pressure monitors, so make sure you follow the instructions given to you by the manufacturer.

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

Woman measuring her blood pressure in a living room

There are two blood pressure numbers. The first is systolic blood pressure, which is the force exerted on the vessels when the heart is contracting; the second is diastolic blood pressure, which is the force on blood vessels when the heart is relaxed.

High blood pressure can damage and cause changes to your blood vessels, which can eventually cause cardiovascular complications like stroke, heart attack, and more.

Blood pressure readings are measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg, because traditional BP monitors use columns of mercury, and the longer the column, the higher the blood pressure.

Blood pressure varies between people, but it is important to know normal blood pressure readings and what qualifies as a high blood pressure reading. Let’s talk about blood pressure ranges below, systolic and diastolic, respectively:

  • Normal blood pressure: <120 and <80mmHg
  • Elevated blood pressure: 120–129 and <80mmHg
  • High blood pressure (stage 1): 130–139 or 80–89mmHg
  • High blood pressure (stage 2): >140 or >90mmHg
  • Hypertensive crisis: >180 and/or >120mmHg

The average blood pressure is in the normal range. The higher your blood pressure, the more damage is done to the blood vessels in your body, and this damage starts from high blood pressure (stage 1).

However, in the case of a hypertensive crisis, the pressure is high enough to cause damage to several organs in your body. It is a medical emergency, and you should contact your healthcare professional right away.

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Factors Affecting Blood Pressure Measurements

Close up of a woman holding her head in pain

To ensure you get an accurate blood pressure reading, you need to be aware of factors that can influence what you get from your blood pressure monitoring.

Impact of physical activity

Regular exercise is great for lowering higher blood pressure in the long term, but it causes an acute increase in blood pressure.

Because of this, you should try to keep your blood pressure monitoring for times when you haven’t just exercised. Half an hour of rest after a workout tends to be a good period to get an accurate reading.

Influence of stress and emotional state

You might not realize it, but the stress you feel from work, school, or life can increase your blood pressure. Emotional and psychological stressors might be the reason why the results from your home blood pressure monitoring are higher than usual.

This is why stress management techniques might be recommended by your health care professional to help control your blood pressure.

You can try techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga before you get your blood pressure measured.

Impact of caffeine and stimulants

Substances that are classified as stimulants “excite” a lot of systems in the body, including the cardiovascular system. One of the most commonly consumed stimulants is caffeine, and this very quickly increases blood pressure.

Before you measure blood pressure, you should avoid drinking energy drinks, coffee, or any other stimulants. This will make it a lot more likely for you to get an accurate reading.

Effect of medications

Just like how blood pressure medication can decrease BP, there are other medications that can end up increasing blood pressure. It is important to check in with your doctor’s office if you are using any medication that can raise BP, so you can adjust dosages and timings if needed.

Medicines that can increase blood pressure include:

  • NSAIDs like ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin
  • Decongestants like pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine
  • Antidepressants in classes like SSRIs, monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • Medicines containing caffeine
  • Stimulants like methylphenidate

White coat syndrome and masked hypertension

White coat hypertension/syndrome is when your blood pressure checked in the hospital is much higher than your self-measured blood pressure at home. This is usually due to anxiety from the hospital environment.

Home monitoring is the key to uncovering white coat syndrome. Self-measured blood pressure will reflect your normal values.

On the other hand, there’s also masked hypertension, where measuring your blood pressure at home gives higher values than what you see when you take your blood pressure in the doctor’s office.

Measuring your blood pressure regularly at home and visiting your medical office as scheduled can make it easy to determine masked high blood pressure.

Consulting Healthcare Professionals for Accurate Blood Pressure Readings

Doctor holding a patient's hand

As easy as it is to take your blood pressure from the comfort of your home, it can be very important to visit your medical office frequently to tap into the expertise of your health care team.

For instance, when you take your blood pressure in a medical office and also at home, you can get the most accurate picture of your BP. It will be able to uncover masked or white coat hypertension when present.

It is always recommended that you visit your medical professional to stay on top of your blood pressure management at all times.

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Key Takeaways

Your blood pressure fluctuates naturally throughout the day. When you check your blood pressure in the morning, you find it at its natural peak, and when you check your blood pressure in the evening, you can catch the increases daily life and stress can cause.

However, for most people, it is recommended that you check your blood pressure at the same time every morning unless otherwise recommended by your healthcare team. This can make it so much easier to manage your clinical hypertension as needed.

The Cardi Health app can make it easier for you to record your daily blood pressure readings over a long duration of time. You’ll be able to track trends in BP and even get personalized recommendations and lifestyle changes to manage it even better.

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Robertas Pranevicius is a medical advisor at Cardi Health who earned his Master’s degree and cardiology residency from the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. He specializes in interventional cardiology and performs both diagnostic and therapeutic invasive procedures. In recent years, he has focused on structural heart disease treatment, such as transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).

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