Health Library







Categories > Heart Health > Blood pressure

Testing your health at home
Pregnancy test
Blood pressure monitoring
Hepatitis C
Cholesterol


For best results…
For best results…

  • Read and follow all instructions carefully. The test may require specific timing, sample amounts or a special diet. Check expiration dates and storage conditions.
  • Use only tests approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Many unapproved tests yield inaccurate results. Sometimes the component the test measures isn’t a good indicator of the disease or condition.
  • Don’t change your medication based on a home test without checking with your doctor.
  • Call your doctor. Let your doctor tell you what the results might mean for your health.

Thanks to the portability of modern technology, home test kits can help you keep track of your health in the privacy of your own bathroom. While some tests are best done by health providers, home tests can alert you to a condition so you can seek timely treatment or give your doctor more information about your health. Follow these guidelines to be sure you’re getting accurate readings:

Pregnancy test

This test detects the presence of a hormone your body makes only during pregnancy. A positive result almost always means you’re pregnant.

Tips for success: Follow directions to collect the urine sample correctly. If you test too early in your cycle, or you’ve miscalculated because your periods are irregular, you may be pregnant but not be producing enough pregnancy hormones yet. Test first thing in the morning when hormone concentrations are higher.

Blood pressure monitoring

By keeping a log of periodic readings, your doctor can see how your blood pressure changes throughout the day. Home monitoring may help alleviate elevated blood pressure caused by stress or anxiety at the doctor’s office.

Tips for success: Use an arm cuff device that’s the correct size for your arm. Monitors that take readings from your finger or wrist are less accurate. If you use a stethoscope, be sure you can hear your heartbeat; otherwise look for a digital model. Take the device to a doctor’s visit to be checked for accuracy and get a personal demonstration.

Hepatitis C

In this test, you collect a drop of your blood to mail to a laboratory that will determine if you may have a hepatitis C infection now or had one in the past.

Tips for success: Call your doctor to help you interpret the results. A negative result does not guarantee you’re not infected because it takes time to develop antibodies after becoming infected. A positive result is not always definitive, either.

Cholesterol

See if you have high cholesterol by placing a drop of blood on a piece of paper that contains special chemicals. Read the color change to determine your total cholesterol.

Tips for success: If your total cholesterol is greater than 200 mg/dL, talk to your doctor about what you need to do to reduce it. He or she may want to run more specific tests that measure your HDL (“good”) cholesterol and triglycerides, as well.