BP Basics

FAQs on Blood Pressure Tests

Blood pressure is the measurement of the force with which blood flows though the arteries to the different parts of the body. A blood pressure test measures this force. It is generally measured by using an instrument called the sphygmomanometer. This device is used in conjunction with a stethoscope to measure blood pressure.

A blood pressure test may be performed at the doctor’s clinic or you can use a portable device to measure your own blood pressure. If you perform a blood pressure test at home there are certain things that you should be aware of so that you can properly read your blood pressure.

Usually blood pressure readings consist of two measurements – systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the reading taken when the heart beats. It is generally the highest or peak blood pressure. Diastolic pressure is the pressure between each heartbeat.

Blood pressure is expressed in terms of millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). It is written as a combination of systolic and diastolic pressure. In a reading of 130/90 for example, 130 is the systolic pressure and 90 is the diastolic pressure.

Naturally, blood pressure readings will differ from one individual to another. Let us take a look at three different blood pressure readings.

120 -140/ 70 – 90 is considered as normal blood pressure.
140 -159/ 90 – 94 is considered as mild high pressure or mild hypertension.
160 -179/ 94 – 114 is considered as moderate hypertension.

Anything above moderate hypertension is a serious case of hypertension and should be taken seriously.
The same thumb rule may however not be generally applicable for low blood pressure. In other words a blood pressure reading below normal may not necessarily result in typical low blood pressure symptoms.

With advancements in technology , various digital devices are also available, to check high blood pressure. These devices are very convenient and you can use them yourself.

One of them is the automatic blood pressure monitor operated with the help of batteries. Other one is the ambulatory blood pressure monitor where blood pressure is monitored by tying the monitor around the waist and the cuff in the arm. These are few options that you can look out for if you want to monitor your blood pressure at home.

Before you take your blood pressure ensure the following.

You should be in a relaxed position and should not be under any stress or depression during the test.
Avoid consuming alcohol, caffeine based beverages or smoking just before the test.
Keep records of your readings and make monitoring your blood pressure a daily habit.
Before using any blood pressure measurement device, read the manuals and know properly how to use the device.

You should always inform your doctor about your blood pressure readings at least once a week.