How to take blood pressure

Taking a person’s blood pressure can sometimes be quite a complex procedure with quite a number of different factors being taken into consideration. These include alcohol, before having your blood pressure taken you should not consume any alcoholic beverages. If alcohol is taken, this can cause the blood pressure to become raised therefore giving a false reading.

A blood pressure is taken using an instrument called a sphygmomanometer. If the reading is to be correct, at least two readings should be taken at an interval of two minutes and the average value is to be used as the specific value of blood pressure. However this is very rarely done.

An old fashioned sphygmomanometer consists of a cuff, meter, pump and valve. The cuff is used to inflate the area around the upper arm and a pump is then used to build pressure in the cuff, so as to arrest the blood circulation. The pressure is slowly released and the doctor concurrently auscultates the blood vessel in the arm at the higher and lower level. These two levels are known as the systolic and diastolic measurement.

The systolic pressure which is the higher sound is due to myocardial contraction and diastolic pressure (the lower sound) is due to myocardial relaxation.

Taking someone’s blood pressure in this way is very old fashioned nowadays and digital equipment such as Doppler electronic equipment is now used especially in hospitals, clinics and doctors surgeries.

The person having their blood pressure should not bend during the assessment and the individual should sit erect with their back in a straight position and his feet should touch the ground. Likewise, the arm of the patient should rest on the table and the arms placement on the table should be at the level of the heart. If the blood pressure is not taken in this way then a false reading may be given.

Similarly, a person should sit and rest for at least five minutes before having their blood pressure taken. If a person is excited or disturbed or nervous, it can cause their blood pressure to rise and again give a false reading.

When evaluating the blood pressure reading, factors such as the person’s age, weight, gender and the medications they are prescribed should be taken into account. Therefore it is important that a careful and accurate history is taken from the patient before making any firm diagnosis.