Most people have measured their blood pressure (taking tension, in colloquial language) at one time or another in their life. It is a simple and painless test, which provides a large amount of information about the heart and the state of the blood vessels.
- What measures blood pressure?
- As measured?
- What is a high blood pressure?
What measures blood pressure?
The doctor determines the maximum pressure (systolic) and minimum (diastolic) pressure, achieved by the beating heart .
- The maximum pressure: the maximum pressure in an artery (vessel that carries blood from the heart), at the moment when the heart is beating, and driving blood throughout the body.
- The minimum pressure: the minimum pressure in a wall of an artery, in the moments that pass between one heartbeat and another, when the heart is in a state of rest. This pressure is particularly important for the diagnosis of hypertension (high blood pressure). It is also important to follow the evolution of blood pressure.
It is important that the patient be relaxed and remain at rest for at least 5 or 10 minutes before their blood pressure is recorded. Blood pressure can be measured in various ways, depending on what the information obtained by the measurements will be used for, but what is usually done is the following:
- The patient is sitting relaxed, with his right arm resting on a support. Around the upper part of his right arm is placed a cuff containing an inflatable balloon that is connected to a device, with a scale on one of its sides, which is known as a sphygmomanometer.
- Subsequently, air is blown into the interior of the balloon, thereby increasing the pressure of the cuff surrounding the arm.
- The doctor places a stethoscope on the patient’s arm and listens to the pulse, while letting the air out of the balloon slowly.
- The systolic pressure is determined at the moment the doctor first hears the pulse. This sound will be made slowly and progressively farther, to finally disappear.
- The diastolic pressure is measured from the moment the doctor stops listening to the sound of the pulse. It corresponds, therefore, with the last audible beat.
- It is measured in terms of millimeters of mercury (mmHg).
What is a high blood pressure?
If it is higher than 150/90 (systolic / diastolic) – “tension of 15/9”, colloquially- registered when the patient is at rest, it is considered high. In some people, especially in the case of people with diabetes , the goal should be a reading with values lower than 130/80.
All people have variations in blood pressure during the day. Situations involving anxiety, stress, or discomfort may temporarily elevate it in people who do not suffer from significant hypertension (ie, an increase in blood pressure that requires treatment).
For this reason, in all cases, except the most serious ones, it is better not to make judgments about the meaning of the increase in blood pressure, until three or four measurements have been recorded in the space of a few weeks, which will allow us to calculate the average blood pressure.