Measure Blood Pressure

In order to avoid the risks of stroke and heart diseases, it is essential to measure blood pressure at frequent intervals. Blood pressure is basically the force exerted by blood on the walls of the arteries as it makes its way through them. The doctors normally use stethoscope (an instrument used for listening to sounds inside the body) to hear the sounds of your heart pumping blood. Blood pressure is measured by following the blood pumping sounds.

Conventionally the sphygmomanometers were used to measure blood pressure. The sphygmomanometer employs a column of mercury to measure blood pressure. The blood pressure readings are taken by wrapping a cuff around your upper arm. This cuff is inflated until the pulse in your wrist can no longer be felt. This indicates that blood flow through the brachial artery has stopped. Then the cuff is inflated more – 20 mm Hg higher than the point at which pulse could no longer be felt.

At this point, the doctor places a stethoscope to hear for the sound of blood being pumped into the arteries. To measure blood pressure, the systolic pressure is read with diastolic. Two BP readings are noted down – one, when blood first enters into arteries with a whooshing sound and second, when the sound is no more heard. The result is expressed in terms of two numbers such as 120/80 mm HG and read as one hundred and twenty over eighty millimetres of mercury.

The first figure indicates the systolic blood pressure. This is the pressure when the heart is pumping blood and contracting. It is the measure of maximum pressure in the blood system. Whereas the later figure denotes the diastolic blood pressure, which is the pressure between heartbeats when the heart rests and fills with blood. It is the minimal pressure in the blood system.

With the introduction of new automatic machines, however, it has become easier to measure blood pressure. An automatic/digital monitor comprises of a digital box attached to a tube having a cuff at the end. The cuff is wrapped around the upper arm and inflated to a certain level (it gradually deflates on its own). The information about the blood pressure is provided by a sensor attached to the cuff. The readings are automatically generated in the display.

Normally, blood pressure increases when you exert force, or during moments of anxiousness or stress. However, if the blood pressure measure remains higher than normal consistently, this indicates high blood pressure or hypertension. It is not only important for those with hypertension to measure blood pressure regularly, those of you with normal pressure should also keep track of your blood pressure and adopt a healthy lifestyle to avert health risks.

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