As chronic conditions go, hypertension is one that many of us deal with on a daily basis. Nearly half of Americans adults in the U.S. suffer from high blood pressure, but only about 1 in 4 have the condition under control, many through the use of prescription drugs.

Even if you’re among those who have taken steps to keep hypertension in check, it’s a good idea to regularly check your blood pressure… and an easy way to do that is with a home monitor. “The readings you get at home are really important, because they reflect the pressure your heart is facing on a day-to-day basis,” says Dr. Michael Hochman of the University of Southern California.

Here are some suggestions for an accurate home blood pressure reading from the American Heart Association (via the Cleveland Clinic website):

  1. Avoid activities that raise blood pressure 30 minutes before testing… no caffeine, cigarettes or exercise.
  2. Pay attention to your posture. Sit upright with your back supported, and make sure your arm is raised to heart level. Your arm should be supported by something like a cushion or armrest.
  3. Try to relax for five minutes before turning the monitor on. Stress or excitement can impact the accuracy of your reading.
  4. If you need to go to the bathroom, do that first… holding it in can actually raise your blood pressure!
  5. Test at roughly the same times every day. Notice the “s” there: Testing once a day won’t give you or your doctor the same kind of insight that you’ll get from checking several times a day at consistent times.

The Cleveland Clinic also offers tips for buying a home blood pressure monitor… which, as a reminder, you can do with your FSA funds using FSA Store!