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How to Measure Blood Pressure

Jul 2, 2008
How To Measure Blood Pressure

Do you know how to measure blood pressure? More and more people are becoming interested in the topic.

A machine called a sphygmomanometer is used to measure blood pressure. The machine has three parts- the sphygmomanometer, the sphygmomanometer cuff and the inflation bulb.

To measure a patients blood pressure, the cuff is wrapped around their upper arm with it laying flat and upward on a table or flat surface; the cuff is secured in place by a piece of Velcro. The doctor or nurse then places a stethoscope on the lower part of the arm just above the brachial artery. The inflation bulb is then pumped to 180 while the doctor or nurse uses the stethoscope to listen to the heartbeat. By using the pump to inflate the cuff, it cuts of the blood flow to the artery.

Once the meter reaches 180 the valve on the cuff is slowly released and the first set of numbers that the doctor or nurse counts is the systolic (or top number), the second set of numbers that is heard is the diastolic (or bottom number); the process of taking a blood pressure with the sphygmomanometer is done in five phases.

* The first phase is where the actual blood pressure is taken as in the steps above.

* The second stage is when the blood that was cut off for the pressure to be read starts to flow back through the arteries.

* The third stage is when even more blood returns to the arteries and can be heard.

* Stage 4 the blood can be heard flowing again.

* In the last stage, the flow of blood is normal and the process of taking the blood pressure is completed!

The above is a descriptive explanation of how a doctor or nurse does a blood pressure measurement. Luckily, there are other methods that are not as complicated. The invention of the automatic blood pressure machine or home blood pressure monitor has taken a lot of stress off of people who are required to monitor there own blood pressure at home.

An automatic blood pressure monitor does all the hard work of blood pressure measurement for you.

You simply wrap the cuff around your arm and pull it tight following the directions to be sure you have it in the correct location and the tube is on the inside on your arm.

Then you set the monitor to the correct setting of 180/ 140 or 120. Your doctor will tell you which one to use. Then you hit the button and relax your arm as the machine does all the work. When it is finished it will beep and your blood pressure reading will be ready to read and record.

Blood pressure monitors come in a variety of sizes and price ranges. If you are on the go a lot, you will want a smaller one where the monitor box actually attaches to the cuff. These are more expensive but easier to carry around.

A blood pressure machine referred to as an ambulatory blood pressure monitor is attached to the persons'arm and their blood pressure is measured over the course of a 24-hour period. The settings allow the blood pressure to be taking at intervals of 15, 30 and every 60 minutes. It is a great monitor for those who do not need to be hospitalized but do need the pressure monitored closely. All of the information (blood pressures) are stored in a database in the machine and retrieved by the doctor or nurse using a computer program.

Blood pressure measurements are important for your health and your doctor will use the readings to plan whether or not you need treatment - and if you do, to work out which treatment to give you.

If you have high blood pressure and don't yet own a blood pressure monitor you should consider buying one now.
About the Author
Gordon Cameron is a family doctor in Scotland. He has a special interest in blood pressure problems including treating high blood pressure and in helping people to deal with problems due to low blood pressure
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