Checking and monitoring blood pressure is one of the most frequent tasks carried out by medical professionals – whether it is for a routine checkup or while trying to diagnose a more serious issue. But, why? This is because changes in blood pressure levels are linked to a number of possible diseases/conditions, due to the extensive influence it has on our bodies and wellbeing. In this article, we’ve created a blood pressure guide that will help you understand the 2 methods of checking blood pressure. Both of the methods in this blood pressure guide involve using an inflatable cuff attached to a measuring device, which is placed on the patient’s upper arm covering the brachial artery. This cuff is inflated and, in turn, deflated releasing pressure in a controlled manner. Initially, mercury sphygmomanometers were considered the ‘gold standard for monitoring blood pressure, but due to the toxic nature of mercury, they have been widely phased out of official use. For more information about blood pressure, its causes, consequences, and cures, you may refer to our ‘The 5 Best Blood Pressure Kits: Blood Pressure Kit Reviews and Guide’ article.
The Manual Auscultatory Measurement Method | Blood Pressure Guide
Devices used to check blood pressure manually involve the use of an upper-arm cuff wrapped around the brachial artery, which the user inflates and slowly deflates whilst listening to the Korotkoff sounds using a stethoscope. When checking blood pressure, there are usually two numbers taken into consideration; the top number measuring systolic pressure, and the bottom number measuring diastolic pressure. In this manual auscultatory method, the systolic pressure is observed when the sounds first begin and the diastolic pressure is measured when they disappear. There are 5 ‘phases’ of sounds that can be heard:
1. Phase I: thud
2. Phase II: blowing/swishing sound
Auscultatory Gap: sounds may disappear for a moment in some patients
3. Phase III: soft thud
4. Phase IV: disappearing blowing sound
5. Phase V: all sounds disappear
This method of checking blood pressure has become increasingly popular due to its portability and general reliability, but you must be a trained professional to accurately distinguish and record the sounds. The one downfall of this method is the occurrence of observer bias, meaning there may be inaccuracies in the readings due to the fault of the observer – that is, there are no consistency or control protocols in the procedure.
Manual Devices Used For Checking Blood Pressure
1. Aneroid sphygmomanometer: This device used for checking blood pressure requires the use of a stethoscope and involves a ‘bellows and lever’ system. This device has replaced the mercury manometer mentioned previously by opting for a liquid-free aneroid gauge that registers the blood pressure.
2. Electronic sphygmomanometer: This device is powered by a battery and makes use of a pressure sensor, displaying the results of the blood pressure test on an electronic display. Unlike the aneroid sphygmomanometer, a stethoscope is not required when using this device.
Although both the devices mentioned above are meant to create a safer process of checking blood pressure by eliminating the use of mercury, the readings made using them may not be completely accurate. That is, aneroid sphygmomanometers readings may suffer from observer bias and require a well-trained medical professional whereas electronic sphygmomanometers require regular calibration checks due to possible shocks to the mechanism.
The Automated Oscillometric Method | Blood Pressure Guide
In layman’s language, the most oscillometric method can be described as follows: an inflatable cuff is wrapped around the upper arm covering the brachial artery, and the systolic and diastolic pressures are measured by the detection of movement in the artery walls.
Automated Devices Used For Checking Blood Pressure
1. Non-invasive Blood Pressure Monitors: these devices are most commonly used when patients are referred to specialists in general wards; they often include the feature of measuring other vitals (for example, oxygen saturation levels) or automatic cycling (recording a patient’s blood pressure readings at specific time intervals). These can be powered using batteries or main electricity.
2. Multiparameter Monitors: simply put, and as the name suggests, these devices are used to check a range of vitals of a patient – such as blood pressure (NIBP), heart activity (ECG), oxygen saturation (SpO2), respiratory levels (RESP), and temperature (TEMP). These multiparameter monitors are most commonly used in ICUs or the ER.
3. Automated Devices: as mentioned in the introduction to the automated oscillometric method, automated devices involve using an inflatable arm cuff wrapped around the upper arm whilst covering the brachial artery to check for blood pressure whilst cuff slowly deflates in a controlled manner. These devices are powered with batteries and can most commonly be seen in primary care situations.
4. Wrist Cuff: these wrist cuffs have become very popular for at-home use for checking blood pressure and function in the same way as the automated devices; making use of an electronic monitor and pressure sensor.
5. Finger Cuff: this device is most commonly used in at-home settings instead of in professional healthcare settings; it simply involves attaching a finger cuff with an attached pressure monitor to the finger with results being displayed on the electronic monitor.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is normal blood pressure?
120/80 mmHg is considered a normal blood pressure rate. At this time, any blood pressure at or over 130/80 mmHg is diagnosed as ‘hypertension (high blood pressure).
2. What is stroke-level blood pressure?
A blood pressure rate over 180/120 mmHg is considered to be a ‘stroke level and calls for an immediate appointment for your doctor, considering the high danger levels.
3. Are eggs good for blood pressure?
Consuming egg whites specifically is great for those with high blood pressure
4. Is rice good for blood pressure?
Incorporating whole grains, such as rice, has been shown to be beneficial for those with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancer types.
5. Which foods should you avoid if you have high blood pressure?
Some foods you should avoid if you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension/high blood pressure include salt, deli meat, pickles, packaged/processed foods, etc.
6. Does milk have an effect on blood pressure?
Studies have found that milk and (low-fat) dairy products are beneficial for those with high blood pressure.
7. Does cheese affect your blood pressure?
Cheese often contains high amounts of saturated fats and salts, resulting in a negative effect on blood pressure.
8. How does high blood pressure feel?
Most often, you cannot physically feel having high blood pressure but in the case, it is extremely high one may experience the following symptoms: severe headaches, difficulty breathing, nosebleeds, chest pain, urine blood, fatigue, etc.