Aging & Health A to Z
High Blood Pressure
Diagnosis & Tests
Blood pressure can be a variable thing—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 health professional, and that may cause blood pressure to rise. This condition actually has a name: "White-coat" hypertension. If this happens to you, your healthcare provider may ask you to take your blood pressure several times at home and report the results. Accurate and easy-to-use blood pressure monitors for home use are available at a reasonable cost and many grocery stores and pharmacies have blood pressure machines customers may use for free or very low cost.
Once your healthcare provider diagnoses your high blood pressure, he or she will check for any illnesses that might be causing it, or that are being caused by it, such as heart problems, kidney disease, diabetes, or eye problems. This involves a routine history and physical examination, as well as blood and urine tests.
Your healthcare professional may also measure your blood pressure while you are lying down, and then after you stand up. Older people may develop excessively low blood pressure in the standing position, called postural (or orthostatic) hypotension. Postural hypotension can cause episodes of fainting or falling.
Updated: March 2012
Posted: March 2012