Blood Pressure - FAQ's

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is a measurement of the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.  Two numbers are used when recording blood pressure - the higher number (systolic pressure) is the force with which your heart pushes blood out during a heartbeat, and the lower number (diastolic pressure) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels, when the heart fills with blood.  They are both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

What is high blood pressure?

Everybody has slightly different blood pressure and what may be considered high/low for you, may be quite normal for someone else.  High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg (or 150/90mmHg if you are 80+).

An ideal blood pressure level is generally considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg.

How do I take my blood pressure?

Remove any tight-fitting clothing from your upper arm.

It is best to sit quietly for 5-10 minutes before and during taking your blood pressure. Secure the cuff firmly but not too tight around your arm and press the START or O/I button.

Keep your legs uncrossed, your feet flat on the floor and your back straight while taking your reading and rest your arm on a table so that the cuff is at heart level, with your palm facing upwards.

Keep a track of your readings over time if possible to look out for any  patterns of high or low readings and share those results with your GP.

Why do my blood pressure readings sometimes vary?

Several things may cause variations in BP readings, for example, the time of day or activity prior to taking the reading. Other examples are:

Before taking a measurement

Try to avoid activities such as exercising, bathing, eating, drinking or smoking 30 minutes and relax for 15 minutes before taking your BP.  Sit in a quiet place to use your BP monitor and avoid taking readings during stressful times!

Position of body

Sit in a chair keeping your feet flat on the floor.  Your cuff should be level with your heart so rest your arm on a table with your palm facing up.  Keep still while your BP monitor is taking the measurement and avoid talking.

Application of cuff

Placement of your cuff is important.  It should be around 1-2cm above your elbow and the tube should run down the centre of your arm (in line with your middle finger).

Tighten the cuff so that the top and bottom edges fit evenly around your arm and secure with the closure on the cuff.  As a guide, you can check whether your cuff is tight enough - you shouldn't be able to slide 2 fingers under the cuff.  This is important when using Omron digital blood pressure monitors as they detect your blood's movement through your brachial artery and then convert this movement into a digital reading.

Cuff size

It is important to use the correct cuff size or you may get inaccurate readings.  To check what size of cuff is required for you, wrap a cloth tape measure around your arm, midway between your shoulder and elbow and note the measurement in centimetres.  Do not pull the tape tight.

What is an E or EE error indication?

Each Omron blood pressure monitor has some basic built-in diagnostics and if an error is detected, the display will show an E, EE or Er ## (shown as two numbers).  A list of error codes can be found in your user manual.

Why am I seeing a low battery icon on the screen?

A low battery symbol or an outline of a battery symbol indicates that the batteries are exhausted and need replacing. If you only see the low battery symbol when you switch the unit on, this is perfectly normal and is standard on Omron monitors as a check of the physical state of the LCD screen is taking place.

If the battery symbol still displays while the cuff is inflating or deflating it may be an indication that the batteries are close to being exhausted.  If the BP monitor shuts down while you are taking a reading and the battery symbol is flashing, then you need to replace the batteries.

Please note:  The monitor does now show a full battery symbol, just the low battery symbol.

What does 'Clinically Validated' mean?

This means a product has been tested and evaluated by an independent organisation and has met the stringent requirements set out by numerous international organisations such as the British Hypertension Society (BHS), European Society for Hypertension (ESH) and International Protocol (IP) to name but a few.

How do I clean my blood pressure monitor?

Simply use a soft dry cloth to wipe the casing of the monitor and a soft moistened cloth with mild soap to clean the cuff.  NEVER use any abrasive cleaners or submerge any part of the monitor or cuff in water.