Friday, April 5, 2013

Blood Pressure Facts

Blood pressure is a vital sign that measures the circulation and pressure of the blood while it travels through the blood vessels. The blood pressure is measured by using systolic and diastolic pressures.  Systolic tells us the maximum level the pressure is at while the heart is beating and diastolic tells us the maximum level of pressure while the heart is at is at rest in between heart beats. Blood pressure is also called arterial blood pressure. Everyone’s blood pressure fluctuates; it depends upon the person’s diet, posture, activity level, temperature, medication taken, physical and emotional state. 
When you see a blood pressure reading the systolic is the top number and diastolic is the bottom number. Depending upon the person, a good blood pressure reading should be 120/80 mmHg also read as 120 over 80. The mmHg stands for millimeters of mercury which is the unit used to measure blood pressure.
In order read a person’s blood pressure, a blood pressure cuff is wrapped around the upper arm. The cuff should fit the person securely and the lower edge of the cuff should be 1 inch above the elbow. If the blood pressure is taken at a doctor’s office they will look for the big artery that is located on the inside of the elbow. They can find the artery by feeling for a pulse, once it is found they will place the stethoscope over this artery. There is an inflatable bulb on one side of the cuff. The doctor will close the value on the bulb and squeeze to inflate it quickly. They will do this until they reach the desired measurement they are seeking, which is usually 30 mmHg higher than the person’s traditional systolic pressure.
Once the desired measurement is reached the doctor will open up the value a little bit. This allows the pressure to decrease a little bit at a time. They will continue to decrease the value until they hear the sound of the pulse again. This technique measures the systolic pressure. The diastolic pressure is measured by allowing the rest of the air to be removed from the bulb. Once the sound of the pulse is gone, the number that they see is recorded.
Some health care providers use an automatic blood pressure machine, which checks the blood pressure on its own as soon as a button is pressed. The measurement is than displayed on a screen. While others use the method I explained above. Patients can also purchase blood pressure monitors that they can use at home.