By the way, doctor: When is the best time to check your own blood pressure?
Q. I'm starting to check my blood pressure at home. When during the day should I do it?
A. You can check it any time of the day, but try to do it the same time every day, and in the same arm. Blood pressures do tend to be higher in the morning, partly because of the little burst of adrenaline we need to get ourselves going at the start of the day. Just be sure to check it after you have been sitting quietly for about five minutes. You shouldn't take any medications just before the measurement, especially ones like decongestants that can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure. Caffeinated or alcoholic beverages can also throw off a reading.
Do-it-yourself blood pressure measurement is catching on. The American Heart Association and other groups now recommend it for people with high blood pressure and those who are at risk of developing it. The cost is reasonable. You can get a good home blood pressure monitor for about $50.