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How Is Blood Pressure Measured? – Hypertension Center

When you visit your health care provider, a blood pressure measurement is one of the most important routine tests you’ll have.

Blood pressure is the force exerted by your blood against your arteries. As your heart pumps, it forces blood out through arteries that carry the blood throughout your body. The arteries keep tapering off in size until they become tiny vessels, called capillaries. At the capillary level, oxygen and nutrients are released from your blood and delivered to the organs.

Types of Blood Pressure

There are two types of blood pressure: Systolic blood pressure refers to the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is pumping; diastolic pressure is the pressure inside your arteries when your heart is resting between beats.

When your arteries are healthy and dilated, blood flows easily and your heart doesn’t have to work too hard. But when your arteries are too narrow or stiff, blood pressure rises, the heart gets overworked, and arteries can become damaged.

Measuring Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is measured with an instrument called a sphygmomanometer. First, a cuff is placed around your arm and inflated with a pump until the circulation is cut off. A small valve slowly deflates the cuff, and the doctor measuring blood pressure uses a stethoscope, placed over your arm, to listen for the sound of blood pulsing through the arteries. That first sound of rushing blood refers to the systolic blood pressure; once the sound fades, the second number indicates the diastolic pressure, the blood pressure of your heart at rest.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and recorded with the systolic number first, followed by the diastolic number. For example, a normal blood pressure would be recorded as something under 120/80 mm Hg.

Blood pressure readings can be affected by factors like:

  • Smoking
  • Coffee or other caffeinated drinks
  • A full bladder
  • Recent physical activity

Blood pressure is also affected by your emotional state and the time of day. Since so many factors can affect blood pressure readings, you should have your blood pressure taken several times to get an accurate measurement.

What Is Normal Blood Pressure?

Experts consider normal blood pressure to be less than 120/80 mm Hg. Based on population data, about 42 percent of American adults have normal blood pressure. At one point, blood pressure at or above 120/80 and less than 140/90 was considered normal to high; these numbers are now considered pre-hypertensive. Blood pressure consistently at or above 140/90 is considered high blood pressure or hypertension.

Blood pressure normally rises as you age and grow. Normal blood pressure readings for children are lower than for adults, while blood pressure measurements for adults and older teenagers are similar.

Blood pressure can also be too low, a condition called hypotension. Hypotension refers to blood pressure lower than 90/60. Symptoms of hypotension include dizziness, fainting, and sometimes shock.

Checking Blood Pressure at Home

Many people can learn to check their blood pressure at home. You can buy blood pressure kits that use the cuffs or electronic digital technology at your pharmacy, a medical supply store, or an online retailer.

Since high blood pressure can exist without any symptoms, it is important to know your numbers. High blood pressure can cause stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and kidney failure.

Getting your blood pressure checked is quick, painless, and one of the most important things you can do to better your health.

Measure Your Blood Pressure | cdc.gov

Measure your blood pressure regularly to help your health care team diagnose any health problems early. You and your health care team can take steps to control your blood pressure if it is too high.

Why do I need to measure my blood pressure?

Measuring your blood pressure is the only way to know whether you have high blood pressure. High blood pressure usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it.

Where can I get my blood pressure checked?

You can get your blood pressure measured

  • By a health care team member at a doctor’s office.
  • At a pharmacy that has a digital blood pressure measurement machine.
  • With a home blood pressure monitor that you can use yourself.

Take this form pdf icon[PDF – 105 KB] with you on your first blood pressure visit to record important blood pressure-related information.

What affects a blood pressure reading?

Many things can affect a blood pressure reading, including:

  • Nervousness about having your blood pressure taken. This is called “white coat syndrome.” As many as 1 in 3 people who have a high blood pressure reading at the doctor’s office may have normal blood pressure readings outside of it.1
  • What you ate, drank, or did before your reading. If you smoked, drank alcohol or caffeine, or exercised within 30 minutes of having your blood pressure measured, your reading might be higher.2
  • How you are sitting. Crossing your legs and letting your arm droop at your side rather than rest on a table at chest height can make your blood pressure go up.2

It’s important to get an accurate blood pressure reading so that you have a clearer picture of your risk for heart disease and stroke.

A reading that says your blood pressure is lower than it actually is may give you a false sense of security about your health. A reading that says your blood pressure is higher than it actually is may lead to treatment you don’t need.

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What is the correct way to measure blood pressure?

Learn the correct way to have your blood pressure taken, whether you’re getting it checked at the doctor’s office or checking it yourself at home. Use this checklist:

  • Don’t eat or drink anything 30 minutes before you take your blood pressure.
  • Empty your bladder before your reading.
  • Sit in a comfortable chair with your back supported for at least 5 minutes before your reading.
  • Put both feet flat on the ground and keep your legs uncrossed.
  • Rest your arm with the cuff on a table at chest height.
  • Make sure the blood pressure cuff is snug but not too tight. The cuff should be against your bare skin, not over clothing.
  • Do not talk while your blood pressure is being measured.

If you are keeping track of your blood pressure at home, use these additional tips.

How do health care professionals measure my blood pressure?

First, a health care professional wraps an inflatable cuff around your arm. The health care professional then inflates the cuff, which gently tightens on your arm. The cuff has a gauge on it that will measure your blood pressure.

The health care professional will slowly let air out of the cuff while listening to your pulse with a stethoscope and watching the gauge. This process is quick and painless. If using a digital or automatic blood pressure cuff, the health care professional will not need to use a stethoscope.

The gauge uses a unit of measurement called millimeters of mercury (mmHg) to measure the pressure in your blood vessels.

If you have high blood pressure, talk to your health care team about steps to take to control your blood pressure to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Use this list of questions to ask your health care team pdf icon[PDF – 173 KB] to help you manage your blood pressure.

How can I measure my blood pressure at home?

Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) monitoring.

SMBP means you regularly use a personal blood pressure measurement device away from a doctor’s office or hospital—usually at home. These blood pressure monitors are easy and safe to use. A health care team member can show you how to use one if you need help.

Evidence shows that people with high blood pressure are more likely to lower their blood pressure if they use SMBP combined with support from their health care team than if they don’t use SMBP.3

Use these additional tips for SMBP:4

How often should I measure my blood pressure?

Talk with your health care team about how often you should have your blood pressure measured or when to measure it yourself. People who have high blood pressure may need to measure their blood pressure more often than people who do not have high blood pressure.

What should I do if my blood pressure numbers are high?

If you are concerned about your blood pressure numbers, talk to your health care team. They can help you make a plan to manage high blood pressure.

No matter your age, you also can take steps each day to help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.

Shareable Handouts and Tools

What is blood pressure and how is it measured? – InformedHealth.org

The heart supplies the organs and tissues of the body with blood. With every beat, it pumps blood into the large blood vessels of the circulatory system. As the blood moves around the body, it puts pressure on the walls of the vessels. Blood pressure readings are made up of two values:

  • Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart beats – while the heart muscle is contracting (squeezing) and pumping oxygen-rich blood into the blood vessels.

  • Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure on the blood vessels when the heart muscle relaxes. The diastolic pressure is always lower than the systolic pressure.

Blood pressure is measured in units of millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The readings are always given in pairs, with the upper (systolic) value first, followed by the lower (diastolic) value.

So someone who has a reading of 132/88 mmHg (often spoken “132 over 88”) has a

  • systolic blood pressure of 132 mmHg, and a

  • diastolic blood pressure of 88 mmHg.

What is normal blood pressure, and when is blood pressure considered to be high?

Blood pressure is always measured on a number of different days and when you are at rest. If several of these measurements are too high, you are said to have high blood pressure, even if only one of the two – either the systolic or the diastolic one – is high. The medical term for high blood pressure is hypertension. In adults, blood pressure is considered to be normal under a systolic value of 140 mmHg and under a diastolic value of 90 mmHg.

When taking your blood pressure for the first time, it makes sense to measure the blood pressure in both arms, because it’s sometimes high on only one side. The values that are higher are always the ones used for assessing blood pressure. After that it is enough to measure the blood pressure only in the arm that produced the higher reading. A person is considered to have high blood pressure if the systolic value is over 140 mmHg, the diastolic value is over 90 mmHg, or if both are higher than these readings.

High blood pressure itself usually goes unnoticed. Only if it is extremely high can it sometimes result in symptoms like dizziness or trouble seeing. Over the long term, high blood pressure increases your risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attacks, strokes, and heart and kidney failure. So if you or your doctor think you have high blood pressure, it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. If the readings are repeatedly too high, there are several different ways of lowering your blood pressure and decreasing the risk of long-term health consequences.

Table: Normal and high blood pressure readings

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Normal blood pressure systolic under 140 mmHg and diastolic under 90 mmHg
High blood pressure systolic over 140 mmHg and/or diastolic over 90 mmHg

How is blood pressure measured?

It’s important to measure blood pressure more than once because it fluctuates over the course of the day. It can also change due to things like physical exertion, stress, pain, or extreme heat or cold. But this kind of increase in blood pressure is only temporary and it soon returns to normal.

So, if blood pressure is measured just once and found to be high, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s always too high. A blood pressure reading taken at the doctor’s office can also be misleading: Going to the doctor makes some people so nervous that their blood pressure goes up.

So to get reliable readings, blood pressure is measured on several different days and while you are resting. This means sitting down and relaxing on a chair, and waiting about three minutes before taking a measurement so that your circulatory system comes to rest. The upper arm that is being used for the measurement should rest on a table, at about the same height as the heart, while the reading is being done.

You can measure your blood pressure on your own using a digital blood pressure monitor for automated readings or an instrument called a sphygmomanometer for manual readings.

Digital blood pressure monitors

Digital blood pressure monitors are often used on the wrist, but they can also be placed on the finger or upper arm and are activated simply by pressing a button. They read the blood pressure automatically based on variations in the volume of blood in the arteries. When taking blood pressure measurements on the wrist, it’s important to keep the hand level with the heart. Otherwise it can affect the readings.

Digital meters can sometimes be inaccurate and produce unreliable readings anyway – especially in people with certain heart rhythm problems or arteries that have hardened due to arteriosclerosis.

Measuring blood pressure with a sphygmomanometer

A sphygmomanometer has three parts:

  • a cuff that can be inflated with air,

  • a pressure meter (manometer) for measuring air pressure in the cuff, and

  • a stethoscope for listening to the sound the blood makes as it flows through the brachial artery (the major artery found in your upper arm).

The scale of the pressure meter ranges from 0 to 300 mmHg. The pressure meter has a rubber pump on it for inflating the cuff and a button for letting the air out.

To measure blood pressure, the cuff is placed around the bare and stretched out upper arm, and inflated until no blood can flow through the brachial artery. Then the air is slowly let out of the cuff.

As soon as the air pressure in the cuff falls below the systolic blood pressure in the brachial artery, blood will start to flow through the arm once again. This creates a pounding sound when the arteries close again and the walls of the vessels hit each other after a heart beat. The sound can be heard by placing the stethoscope close to the elbow. Right when you start to hear this pounding for the first time you can read your systolic blood pressure off the pressure meter.

The pounding sound stops when the air pressure in the cuff falls below the diastolic blood pressure in the brachial artery. Then the blood vessels remain open. Right when the pounding stops, you can read the diastolic blood pressure off the pressure meter.

Where can I learn how to take my blood pressure myself?

In Germany and other countries, people with high blood pressure can attend patient education courses that teach a number of things, including how to measure your blood pressure. As part of specialized disease management programs (DMPs) for people who have narrow coronary arteries (coronary artery disease, CAD), statutory health insurers offer additional healthcare services. These include patient education about high blood pressure. Some doctor’s practices don’t offer these courses, though.

What is ambulatory blood pressure monitoring?

If a doctor recommends ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, you will need to wear a blood pressure cuff for 24 hours. It’s connected to a small, portable measuring device that automatically measures your blood pressure at set times and records the readings.

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is used, for example, to see whether blood pressure levels vary greatly over the course of the day and night or whether they are constantly elevated. During those 24 hours, you can do all of the usual things you would otherwise do over the course of the day. If you are especially active at certain times, you can make a note in a diary. Then the doctor has a better idea of how to interpret the recorded values when evaluating them.

Sources

  • Kasper DL, Fauci AS, Hauser SL, Longo DL, Jameson JL, Loscalzo J. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2015.

  • Pschyrembel. Klinisches Wörterbuch. Berlin: De Gruyter; 2017.

  • Stierle U (Ed). Klinikleitfaden Kardiologie. Munich: Urban und Fischer; 2017.

  • IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping
    people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health
    care services.

    Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the
    German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual
    case can be determined by talking to a doctor. We do not offer individual consultations.

    Our information is based on the results of good-quality studies. It is written by a
    team of
    health care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You can
    find a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated in
    our methods.

Understanding Blood Pressure Readings | American Heart Association

What do your blood pressure numbers mean?

The only way to know if you have high blood pressure (HBP, or hypertension) is to have your blood pressure tested. Understanding your results is key to controlling high blood pressure.

Healthy and unhealthy blood pressure ranges

Learn what’s considered normal, as recommended by the American Heart Association.

Blood Pressure Chart
BLOOD PRESSURE CATEGORY SYSTOLIC mm Hg (upper number) and/or DIASTOLIC mm Hg (lower number)
NORMAL LESS THAN 120 and LESS THAN 80
ELEVATED 120 – 129 and LESS THAN 80
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION) STAGE 1 130 – 139 or 80 – 89
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION) STAGE 2 140 OR HIGHER or 90 OR HIGHER
HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS (consult your doctor immediately) HIGHER THAN 180 and/or HIGHER THAN 120

Download this chart: English Jpeg | English PDF | Spanish Jpeg | Spanish PDF | Traditional Chinese Jpeg | Traditional Chinese (PDF)

Note: A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. A doctor should also evaluate any unusually low blood pressure readings.

Blood pressure categories

The five blood pressure ranges as recognized by the American Heart Association are:

Normal

Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range. If your results fall into this category, stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.

Elevated

Elevated blood pressure is when readings consistently range from 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic. People with elevated blood pressure are likely to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control the condition.

Hypertension Stage 1

Hypertension Stage 1 is when blood pressure consistently ranges from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication based on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), such as heart attack or stroke.

Hypertension Stage 2

Hypertension Stage 2 is when blood pressure consistently ranges at 140/90 mm Hg or higher. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.

Hypertensive crisis

This stage of high blood pressure requires medical attention. If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and then test your blood pressure again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.

If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision or difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911.

Your blood pressure numbers and what they mean

Your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers:

  • Systolic blood pressure (the first number) – indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.
  • Diastolic blood pressure (the second number) – indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.

Which number is more important?

Typically, more attention is given to systolic blood pressure (the first number) as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50. In most people, systolic blood pressure rises steadily with age due to the increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term buildup of plaque and an increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.

However, either an elevated systolic or an elevated diastolic blood pressure reading may be used to make a diagnosis of high blood pressure. According to recent studies, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic or 10 mm Hg diastolic increase among people from age 40 to 89.

Why blood pressure is measured in mm Hg

The abbreviation mm Hg means millimeters of mercury.
Mercury was used in the first accurate pressure gauges and is still used in medicine today as the standard unit of measurement for pressure.

Taking your pulse versus checking your blood pressure

While both are indications of health, blood pressure and heart rate (pulse) are two separate measurements. Learn more about the difference between blood pressure and heart rate.

Monitoring Your Blood Pressure at Home

How to use a home blood pressure monitor

  • Be still.
    Don’t smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Empty your bladder and ensure at least 5 minutes of quiet rest before measurements.

  • Sit correctly.
    Sit with your back straight and supported (on a dining chair, rather than a sofa). Your feet should be flat on the floor and your legs should not be crossed. Your arm should be supported on a flat surface (such as a table) with the upper arm at heart level. Make sure the bottom of the cuff is placed directly above the bend of the elbow. Check your monitor’s instructions for an illustration or have your healthcare provider show you how.
  • Measure at the same time every day.
    It’s important to take the readings at the same time each day, such as morning and evening. It is best to take the readings daily however ideally beginning 2 weeks after a change in treatment and during the week before your next appointment.
  • Take multiple readings and record the results.
    Each time you measure, take two or three readings one minute apart and record the results using a printable (PDF) tracker. If your monitor has built-in memory to store your readings, take it with you to your appointments. Some monitors may also allow you to upload your readings to a secure website after you register your profile.
  • Don’t take the measurement over clothes.

Download a PDF sheet that shows you how to measure your blood pressure properly. Also available in Spanish and Chinese.

Know your numbers

Learn what the numbers in your blood pressure reading mean.

Blood Pressure Chart
BLOOD PRESSURE CATEGORY SYSTOLIC mm Hg (upper number) and/or DIASTOLIC mm Hg (lower number)
NORMAL LESS THAN 120 and LESS THAN 80
ELEVATED 120 – 129 and LESS THAN 80
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION) STAGE 1 130 – 139 or 80 – 89
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION) STAGE 2 140 OR HIGHER or 90 OR HIGHER
HYPERTENSIVE CRISIS (consult your doctor immediately) HIGHER THAN 180 and/or HIGHER THAN 120

Note: A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. A doctor should also evaluate any unusually low blood pressure readings.

Download this chart: English Jpeg | English PDF | Spanish Jpeg | Spanish PDF | Traditional Chinese Jpeg | Traditional Chinese (PDF)

If you get a high blood pressure reading

  • A single high reading is not an immediate cause for alarm. If you get a reading that is slightly or moderately higher than normal, take your blood pressure a few more times and consult your healthcare professional to verify if there’ s a health concern or whether there may be any issues with your monitor.
  • If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and test again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
  • If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911.

AHA Recommendation

The American Heart Association recommends home monitoring for all people with high blood pressure to help the healthcare provider determine whether treatments are working. Home monitoring (self-measured blood pressure) is not a substitute for regular visits to your physician. If you have been prescribed medication to lower your blood pressure, don’t stop taking your medication without consulting your doctor, even if your blood pressure readings are in the normal range during home monitoring.

Choosing a home blood pressure monitor

The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep (upper-arm) monitor.

  • Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because they yield less reliable readings.
  • Choose a monitor that has been validated. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice or find options at validatebp.org(link opens in new window).
  • When selecting a blood pressure monitor for a senior, pregnant woman or child, make sure it is validated for these conditions.
  • Make sure the cuff fits — measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.

Once you’ve purchased your monitor, bring it to your next appointment

Have your doctor check to see that you are using it correctly and getting the same results as the equipment in the office. Plan to bring your monitor in once a year to make sure the readings are accurate.

Home blood pressure monitoring may be especially useful for:

  • Anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension).
  • Individuals starting high blood pressure treatment to determine its effectiveness.
  • People requiring closer monitoring, especially individuals with risk factors for high blood pressure and/or conditions  related to high blood pressure. 
  • Pregnant women, experiencing pregnancy-induced hypertension and/or preeclampsia.
  • Evaluating potentially false readings, like:
    • People who only have high readings at the doctor’ s office (“white coat” hypertension).  
    • People who only have high readings at home but not at the doctor’ s office (“masked” hypertension).
  • NOTE: People with atrial fibrillation or other arrhythmias may not be good candidates for home monitoring because electronic home blood pressure devices may not be able to give accurate measurements. Ask your doctor to recommend a monitoring method that works for you.

Left-arm vs. right-arm blood pressure

Several studies have been done to determine what is a normal variation between right and left arm. In general, any difference of 10 mm Hg or less is considered normal and is not a cause for concern.

Why keep a blood pressure journal?

One blood pressure measurement is like a snapshot. It only tells what your blood pressure is at that moment. A record of readings taken over time provides a “time-lapse” picture of your blood pressure that can help you partner with your physician to ensure that your treatments to lower high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension) are working.

Tips to measure your blood pressure correctly

To determine whether you have hypertension, a medical professional will take a blood pressure reading. How you prepare for the test, the position of your arm, and other factors can change a blood pressure reading by 10% or more. That could be enough to hide high blood pressure, start you on a drug you don’t really need, or lead your doctor to incorrectly adjust your medications.

National and international guidelines offer specific instructions for measuring blood pressure. If a doctor, nurse, or medical assistant isn’t doing it right, don’t hesitate to ask him or her to get with the guidelines.

Here’s what you can do to ensure a correct reading:

Don’t drink a caffeinated beverage or smoke during the 30 minutes before the test.

Sit quietly for five minutes before the test begins.

During the measurement, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor and your arm supported so your elbow is at about heart level.

The inflatable part of the cuff should completely cover at least 80% of your upper arm, and the cuff should be placed on bare skin, not over a shirt.

Don’t talk during the measurement.

Have your blood pressure measured twice, with a brief break in between. If the readings are different by 5 points or more, have it done a third time.

There are times to break these rules. If you sometimes feel lightheaded when getting out of bed in the morning or when you stand after sitting, you should have your blood pressure checked while seated and then while standing to see if it falls from one position to the next.

Because blood pressure varies throughout the day, your doctor will rarely diagnose hypertension on the basis of a single reading. Instead, he or she will want to confirm the measurements on at least two occasions, usually within a few weeks of one another. The exception to this rule is if you have a blood pressure reading of 180/110 mm Hg or higher. A result this high usually calls for prompt treatment.

It’s also a good idea to have your blood pressure measured in both arms at least once, since the reading in one arm (usually the right) may be higher than that in the left. A 2014 study in The American Journal of Medicine of nearly 3,400 people found average arm- to-arm differences in systolic blood pressure of about 5 points. The higher number should be used to make treatment decisions.

In general, blood pressures between 160/100 mm Hg and 179/109 mm Hg should be rechecked within two weeks, while measurements between 140/90 and 159/99 should be repeated within four weeks. People in the prehypertension category (between 120/80 and 139/89 mm Hg) should be rechecked within four to six months, and those with a normal reading (less than 120/80 mm Hg) should be rechecked annually. However, your doctor may schedule a follow-up visit sooner if your previous blood pressure measurements were considerably lower; if signs of damage to the heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes are present; or if you have other cardiovascular risk factors. Also, most doctors routinely check your blood pressure whenever you go in for an office visit.

For more on getting your blood pressure under control, buy Controlling Your Blood Pressure, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

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Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date,
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Video: How to measure blood pressure using a manual monitor


Manual, or aneroid, equipment includes a cuff, an attached pump, a stethoscope and a gauge.


This equipment requires coordination. It’s difficult to use if you’re hearing or visually impaired or if you’re unable to perform the hand movements needed to squeeze the bulb and inflate the cuff.


When you’re ready to take your blood pressure, sit quietly for three to five minutes beforehand.


To begin, place the cuff on your bare upper arm one inch above the bend of your elbow. Pull the end of the cuff so that it’s evenly tight around your arm. You should place it tight enough so that you can only slip two fingertips under the top edge of the cuff. Make sure your skin doesn’t pinch when the cuff inflates.


Once the cuff is on, place the disk of the stethoscope facedown under the cuff, just to the inner side of your upper arm.


Next, place the stethoscope earpieces in your ears, with the earpieces facing forward, pointing toward the tip of your nose. Rest the gauge in the open palm of the hand of your cuffed arm so that you can clearly see it.


Then, squeeze the pump rapidly with your opposite hand until the gauge reads 30 points above your usual systolic pressure. (Be sure to inflate the cuff rapidly). Stop squeezing. Turn the knob on the pump toward you (counterclockwise) to let the air out slowly.


Let the pressure fall 2 millimeters, or lines on the dial, per second while listening for your heart sounds. Note the reading when you first hear a heartbeat. This is your systolic pressure.


Note when you no longer hear the beating sounds. This is your diastolic pressure.


Rest quietly and wait about one to two minutes before taking another measurement. Record your numbers either by writing the information down or by entering the information into an electronic personal health record.

Blood pressure measurement

Blood pressure – one of the main indicators of the cardiovascular system. Blood pressure can change in many diseases, and it is very important to maintain it at the most optimal level.

Distinguish between systolic, or upper, arterial pressure – blood pressure during the period of contraction of the ventricles of the heart (systole). The volume of blood pushed out by the heart cannot immediately pass through the small blood vessels.Therefore, the aorta and other large vessels are stretched, and the pressure in them rises, reaching normal 100-130 mm Hg. Art. During relaxation of the ventricles (diastole), the blood pressure in the aorta gradually drops to normal to 90 mm Hg. Art., and in large arteries – up to 70 mm Hg. Art. The difference in the values ​​of systolic and diastolic pressure is perceived as a pulse wave, which is called a pulse.

In healthy people, the level of blood pressure is relatively stable, although in everyday life it often fluctuates.This also happens with negative emotions, nervous or physical strain, with excessive fluid intake and in many other cases.

In patients with arterial hypertension, blood pressure levels can significantly exceed normal values ​​- the cardiovascular system is simply not designed for such loads, and therefore, over time, irreversible changes in blood vessels and heart muscle increase in the body of a person suffering from arterial hypertension, which in the future can lead to serious complications.

In polyclinic # 32, of course, you will be prescribed adequate treatment to lower blood pressure and improve the functioning of the heart and blood vessels, but your personal participation is an integral part of such treatment. Surely the doctor will ask you to keep a blood pressure diary – that is, measure it yourself at different times of the day. It is very important to measure your blood pressure correctly, otherwise it will be difficult to assess the effectiveness of your treatment.

So how can you measure your blood pressure?

There are some simple rules:

  • The most commonly used device for measuring blood pressure is an arm-cuff, an air pump, and a pressure gauge.Such a device can be either manual or automatic. It is very important that the cuff is adequate for the volume of the arm and is neither too tight nor too loose.
  • Measure blood pressure in a calm, comfortable environment. Refrain from physical activity, smoking, coffee and eating for at least half an hour before the measurement.
  • Sit in a comfortable position and just sit quietly for 2-3 minutes (writing can also increase blood pressure).
  • If you are using a tonometer with a wrist cuff, place your arm so that the cuff is at the same level as your heart. If you are using a tonometer with a shoulder cuff, no special adjustments are required.
  • Do not speak or move during measurement – normal conversation may affect the final result.
  • There should be a pause of 5 minutes between two measurements (this is necessary to relax the vessels).
  • Try to measure your blood pressure at the same time of day.

Physician
I therapy. branches
Deev Dmitry Mikhailovich

Tags: general practitioner, blood pressure

90,000 To whom, why and how to measure blood pressure

The level of blood pressure is one of the brightest indicators of the state of health. True, most often the need to monitor blood pressure is remembered in diseases of the cardiovascular system. In fact, everyone should know all about their pressure, because it changes for different reasons.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure (BP) – the pressure that blood exerts on the walls of the arteries. It is uneven and fluctuates depending on the phase of the heart. In systole, when the heart contracts and throws another portion of blood into the vessels, the pressure increases. And in diastole, when the heart relaxes and fills with blood, the pressure in the arteries decreases.Blood pressure on the walls of the arteries in systole is called “upper” or systolic, and in diastole – “lower” or diastolic. It is customary to write the blood pressure value through a fraction: the first is the upper, the second is the lower.

BP is one of the most important indicators of the cardiovascular system. In most healthy people, it is relatively constant. But under the influence of stress, physical exertion, overwork, drinking a large amount of liquid and under the influence of other factors, its value can change. Usually, such changes are either not too frequent, or not too strong, and do not exceed 20 mm during the day. rt. Art. – for systolic, 10 mm. rt. Art. – for diastolic. But, here, a repeated or persistent decrease or increase in pressure that goes beyond the normal range may turn out to be an alarming signal of the disease and requires an immediate visit to a doctor.

WHO blood pressure standards

Blood pressure (category) Upper blood pressure (mm.rt. Art.) Lower arterial pressure (mm Hg)
Hypotension (decreased) below 100 below 60
Optimum pressure 100-119 60-79
Normal pressure 120-129 80–84
High Normal Pressure 130-139 85–89
Moderate hypertension (high) 140-159 90-99
Moderate hypertension 160-179 100-109
Severe hypertension over 180 over 110

The “cosmonaut pressure” is considered ideal – 120/80 mm. rt. Art. However, many doctors agree that everyone has their own ideal, and therefore often ask about the “working” pressure of the patient. Working blood pressure is the usual constant interval of blood pressure, which provides a person with good health. Since this interval is individual, for someone 115/80 with a working 130/90 may turn out to be reduced, although it fits within the normal range. And, conversely, with a working 110/80, the increased 130/90 can already become. Knowing the working pressure helps the doctor to timely identify the pathology, more accurately diagnose and choose the right treatment.

However, it should be remembered that pressure that goes beyond the lower and upper limits of the norm does not work for a healthy person. And a normal state of health in this case is only an additional reason to seek the advice of a specialist.

Who needs to monitor blood pressure and how?

One of the most common disorders in blood pressure regulation is hypertension. Often behind it lies hypertension, leading to myocardial infarction, stroke and other serious complications.Unfortunately, arterial hypertension is often asymptomatic, so everyone needs to monitor blood pressure. People prone to its increase, susceptible to risk factors for the development of hypertension and experiencing its symptoms should be especially careful and measure blood pressure from time to time. For the rest, annual control during the period of medical examination is quite enough. But for those with a confirmed diagnosis of arterial hypertension, it would be good to make friends with a tonometer and check the pressure level at least twice a day – in the morning and in the evening.

It is imperative to measure blood pressure when weakness, dizziness, headache, darkening, “veil” in the eyes, tinnitus, difficulty breathing, pain and heaviness in the heart or behind the breastbone appear, or when other symptoms appear that usually accompany a rise or decrease in pressure . ..

It is also worth monitoring blood pressure during exercise, especially when selecting a load.

How to measure blood pressure correctly?

If the measurement of blood pressure is planned, then one hour before it, you should not drink alcohol, drinks containing caffeine (tea, cola, coffee) and smoke, and five minutes before the measurement, ensure yourself a state of rest.

At the first visit to the doctor, the pressure is measured on both hands alternately. If the results differ by more than 10 mm. rt. Art., then in the subsequent measurement is carried out on the arm with a large value of blood pressure. However, the normal readings are about the same. The difference between them is in excess of 10 mm. rt. Art., speaks of an increased risk of diseases of the cardiovascular system and death from them, or about an existing pathology.

BP is usually measured while sitting or lying down. The hand on which the measurement is taken should be free from clothing and squeezing objects, relaxed and motionless. To avoid unwanted stress, it can be placed on an object that provides a fulcrum, such as a table or the edge of a bed. It is best to position the limb so that the elbow is at the level of the heart. The arm should not have arteriovenous fistulas for dialysis, traces of the incision of the brachial artery, lymphedema.

The cuff is placed on the shoulder 2 cm above the elbow bend. It is important that it fits snugly around your hand, but does not squeeze it.

Ideally, BP is measured twice at 2 minute intervals.If the result differs by more than 5 mm. rt. Art. – after 2 minutes, carry out the third measurement and calculate the average value.

The method of measuring pressure depends on the device with which it is carried out, and is indicated in the instruction manual.

How to choose a pressure measuring device?

A device for measuring pressure is called a tonometer. There are two types of tonometers – mechanical and electronic (automatic and semi-automatic).

A mechanical tonometer is inexpensive, reliable, lasts a long time, guarantees high measurement accuracy, is easy to use, but requires certain skills and is more difficult to use without assistance.

The electronic tonometer is convenient and simple, you can easily handle it yourself. In addition to devices that measure pressure on the shoulder, there are those that measure it on the wrist. Such a tonometer can be carried with you, which is sometimes important for some hypertensive patients. And devices with a large dial come in handy for the elderly. Many of the electronic blood pressure monitors show the pulse, remember the data of the last measurements and are equipped with some other functions, the quantity and quality of which largely depends on the price of the device.But automatic and semi-automatic devices are more expensive than mechanical ones, are less accurate and may last a little less. In addition, in some diseases, blood pressure is very difficult to measure with an electronic tonometer, for example, with atrial fibrillation.

When purchasing a tonometer, be sure to pay attention to the presence of instructions in Russian, a passport of the device, a warranty card and the absence of visible defects. And when buying an electronic device – also for the country of origin. Japanese and German devices are traditionally considered the best.

If the choice fell on a mechanical tonometer, it is worth remembering that you need a phonendoscope for it. It is often not included in the package.

Pressure gauges are best purchased from a pharmacy or specialty store. Measurement accuracy and service life cannot be guaranteed if the device is purchased hand-held.

The average cuff width should be 13–17 cm, for children – a little less, for overweight people – a little more.

Before use, the tonometer should be checked and, if necessary, adjusted.It is easier and more correct to do this with the help of a doctor.

How to measure blood pressure with a mechanical tonometer?

Not everyone can independently measure pressure with a mechanical tonometer, so the help of another person is desirable.

In addition to a tonometer, you will need a phonendoscope for measurement.

Phonendoscope – a device for listening to sounds accompanying the work of internal organs. It consists of a “head” that is applied to the body, tubes that conduct sound, and tips that are inserted into the ears.

Measurement order:

  1. A cuff is applied to the shoulder, 2 cm above the elbow bend.
  2. Determined the pulse on the radial artery at the wrist.
  3. Air is rapidly pumped into the cuff. After the disappearance of the pulse, the cuff is pumped for another 30–40 mm Hg. Art.
  4. Along the lower edge of the cuff in the ulnar fold, slightly inward from the center of the ulnar fossa, the head of the phonendoscope is placed.
  5. Air is slowly released from the cuff – at a speed of 2-3 mm Hg.Art. in 1 p. In this case, the scale of the device is constantly monitored. The scale value at which the first sound appears is considered the value of the systolic pressure, and the value at which it disappears is the diastolic value.
  6. When the beat of the pulse wave becomes inaudible, air is rapidly released from the cuff.

Measuring blood pressure with an electronic tonometer for a specific device may have its own subtleties and is described in detail in the instruction manual.

Blood pressure norm, blood pressure measurement

Blood pressure norm

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in a person’s large arteries.There are two indicators of blood pressure:

– Systolic (upper) blood pressure – at the time of maximum contraction of the heart;
– Diastolic (lower) blood pressure at the time of maximum relaxation of the heart.

The level of blood pressure is not a constant value – it fluctuates continuously depending on the impact of various factors. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The normal systolic blood pressure range is 115-130 mmHg.Art. The normal diastolic blood pressure range is 60 – 89 mm Hg.

Blood pressure measurement

Measurement of blood pressure can be carried out both at rest and during the action of physical or psycho-emotional stress, as well as in the intervals between different types of activity. Blood pressure is most often measured while sitting (the back must be supported, as any form of isometric exercise causes an immediate increase in blood pressure) or lying down.

Measurement of blood pressure requires rest (you cannot talk or make sudden movements).

Do I need to measure blood pressure on two hands?

Increased blood pressure

Hypertension (arterial hypertension) is a persistent increase in blood pressure in large arteries of more than 140/90 mm Hg. Increased blood pressure is the main risk factor for the development of vascular diseases of the brain, coronary heart disease, heart and kidney failure, and eye damage.

The main goal of treating hypertension is not to knock down, but to gradually reduce blood pressure, striving to achieve a level of 120-130 / 80 mm Hg. Art. For elderly patients, it is advisable to lower blood pressure to higher values ​​(140-145 / 85-90 mm Hg). An excessive decrease in blood pressure is dangerous for patients with arterial hypertension with left ventricular hypertrophy, coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular disease, as this impairs the blood supply to the vessels of the heart and brain.

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