Aging & Health A to Z
High Blood Pressure
Diagnosis & Tests
Blood pressure can be variable. Yours might be high one day and normal on another. That’s why healthcare professionals like to take several readings during a few office visits before diagnosing high blood pressure.
Many people get nervous when they go see a healthcare provider, and that may cause blood pressure to rise. This is often called "white-coat" hypertension. If this happens to you, your healthcare provider may ask you to take your blood pressure at home several times and report the results. There are accurate and easy-to-use blood pressure monitors that you can use at home. They are available at a reasonable cost. Also, many grocery stores and pharmacies have blood pressure machines that customers may use for free or at a very low cost. When measuring your blood pressure at home, you may notice that it tends to be higher at night and in early morning.
Once you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your healthcare provider will check for any illnesses that might be causing the high blood pressure. They will also check for illnesses that are being caused by high blood pressure. These conditions can include heart problems, kidney disease, diabetes, or eye problems. Your provider will take a routine history and do a physical examination. They may also do blood and urine tests.
Your healthcare provider may also measure your blood pressure while you are lying down, and then after you stand up. Older people may develop very low blood pressure when standing up. This is called postural (or orthostatic) hypotension. Postural hypotension can cause episodes of fainting or falling.
Updated: December 2017
Posted: March 2012