Getting Your Blood Pressure Checked
Blood pressure readings can be obtained at a physician's office and can be taken by various types of medical personnel. Health screenings may also provide an opportunity for a blood pressure check. It is important to have your blood pressure taken at regular intervals (every one to two years). Do not drink caffeine or smoke a cigarette before having your blood pressure measured. If your blood pressure is high, it is necessary to follow up with a physician to further investigate a potential health problem. One high blood pressure reading will not justify a diagnosis of hypertension (two or more readings are necessary).
During the performance of a blood pressure measurement, a cloth cuff with a rubber bladder inside is wrapped around the upper arm and positioned so that the cuff is about an inch above the bend of the elbow. It is important that the cuff size is appropriate, especially for children and obese individuals. The health care professional will feel for the brachial pulse in your arm and place the bell of the stethoscope on your pulse. The earpieces of the stethoscope fit in the health care professional's ears. The cuff will be pumped up to a point above the normal systolic blood pressure (mm Hg) by using a connected rubber bulb, which will cause the cuff to squeeze your arm. The valve on the rubber bulb is slowly released and the health care professional will be listening for pulse (Korotkoff) sounds. When the first sound is heard, that number is recorded as your systolic blood pressure. When the sound disappears, that number is recorded as your diastolic blood pressure. No risk is involved with this procedure.