To diagnose high blood pressure, your healthcare provider examines you and asks questions about your medical history and any symptoms. Your provider listens to your heart using a device called a stethoscope. Your blood pressure is checked using a cuff, usually placed around your arm. It's important that the cuff fits. If it's too big or too small, blood pressure readings can vary. The cuff is inflated using a small hand pump or a machine. The first time your blood pressure is checked, it should be measured in both arms to see if there's a difference. After that, the arm with the higher reading should be used. Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). A blood pressure reading has two numbers. High blood pressure (hypertension) is diagnosed if the blood pressure reading is equal to or greater than 130/80 mm Hg. A diagnosis of high blood pressure is usually based on the average of two or more readings taken on separate occasions.
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