When the human heart pumps out blood into the arteries, a certain amount of pressure is exerted on the walls of these blood vessels. This force on the artery walls is medically termed blood pressure.
High blood pressure is dangerous for health, and it can pave the way for many other ailments, like kidney problems, heart diseases, and strokes. Thus, it is essential to get your blood pressure checked regularly, either by a medical professional or at home. It is a simple diagnostic test that takes only a minute, and it should be conducted daily for patients suffering from hypertension.
What Is a Blood Pressure Test?
The machine used to measure blood pressure is called a sphygmomanometer. It comprises an instrument called a manometer, along with a cuff tied around a patient’s arm and inflated with air. In earlier versions of the machine, the pulse rate was detected with the help of a stethoscope, but digital blood pressure monitors that are available in the market are able to measure the pulse rate as well.
The digital blood pressure machine works automatically to record the patient’s blood pressure, and pulse rate, when its cuff is tied to the upper arm of a patient and the device is switched on. Hence, it is now easier for you to check your blood pressure at home.
Men and women over the age of 40 should undergo blood pressure tests more frequently than younger people. Likewise, patients suffering from cardiac ailments or other serious diseases should check their blood pressure levels regularly.
Risk Factors Associated With a Blood Pressure Test
A blood pressure test is a quick and straightforward procedure, which causes no pain while measuring. The inflated cuff is used to squeeze the arm for a few seconds, which may hurt the muscles, mainly in older and weaker people.
However, this pain disappears once the cuff is taken out of the arm. Therefore, blood pressure measurement is a risk-free diagnostic test that can be availed by all, irrespective of their ages and health conditions.
Preparations for the Blood Pressure Test
You don’t need any special prep for a blood pressure test. However, doctors may ask their patients not to smoke or drink any caffeine-rich beverage at least 1 hour before the test is conducted, as nicotine and caffeine increase blood pressure and pulse rate.
It is better to wear a shirt or a top with short sleeves so that the machine’s cuff can be tied easily on your upper arm. You should sit comfortably on a chair and relax for a few minutes before starting this test so that your BP and pulse rate return to normal.
If you’re currently taking any medicine for other ailments, you need to inform your doctor, as some medications are found to have adverse effects on your blood pressure.
What to Expect from the Blood Pressure Test
You need to sit on a chair so that your feet may rest comfortably on the floor. You need to stretch your arm on a table, making sure that the hand lies at the same level as your heart. A technician or nurse will then tie the cuff tightly around your upper arm, which stretches up to your elbow. The size of this cuff should perfectly fit your arm. Else, there is a chance of getting wrong readings from the blood pressure machine.
Earlier, the cuff was inflated manually by passing air into it with a small pump. Now, the cuff of the digital blood pressure machine inflates automatically once the device is switched on.
The inflated cuff will squeeze your arm very hard to stop the normal blood flow for a second through the brachial artery, which runs through the upper arm. The air inside the inflated cuff is manually or automatically released while the blood pressure level and pulse rate are recorded.
The entire procedure completes in only 1 minute, and it should be repeated at least thrice to determine whether the patient is suffering from high or low blood pressure.
Possible Results of a Blood Pressure Test
Generally, a human being’s blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The normal blood pressure of an adult person should be around 120/80 mm Hg. Here, the first number is the systolic pressure that denotes the pressure created as the heart squeezes to pump blood to the arteries. The second number is the diastolic pressure that signifies the blood pressure between 2 consecutive heartbeats.
If the blood pressure is below 90/60 mm Hg, the patient suffers from low blood pressure, as this range is far below the normal level. If a person’s blood pressure is above 130/85 mm Hg, they suffer from hypertension. The severity of hypertension is categorized into hypertension 1 and hypertension 2, based on the higher values of systolic and diastolic pressure.
When to See a Doctor?
If your blood pressure is found to be more than 180/120 mm Hg, you should call a doctor immediately to prevent the disastrous effects of this extreme condition of hypertension.
Your vital internal organs may fail to function properly in this case, leading to a fatal situation. Thus, you may experience breathing trouble, acute chest pain, back pain, numbness in your limb muscles, blurred vision, and speech problems due to this severe form of hypertension.
You should also see a doctor when your blood pressure monitor reads your BP well below 90/60 mm Hg. Too low blood pressure will make you feel dizzy and even faint due to weakness, for which you need to consult your doctor immediately. However, the life risk is more for hypertension patients, as most cerebral stroke cases are caused by high blood pressure neglected for a long time.
Patients suffering from high blood pressure should purchase a digital blood pressure machine to check their blood pressure and pulse rate at home. Thus, they can monitor their health condition regularly and rush to a doctor whenever the reading on this machine seems too abnormal.
The blood pressure test is simple yet essential and can save you from many other complicated ailments and even untimely death.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are some precautions you must take to keep your blood pressure normal?
You should avoid smoking, drinking alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, too vigorous a workout regime, and trekking to mountainous region when your blood pressure level reads higher than usual. You should also try to be stress-free and consult your doctor about the intake of some medications that seem to boost your BP.
What should be done to lower blood pressure?
You need to limit your daily intake of salt, as sodium in salt can increase your blood pressure. You should include healthy food items like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your daily meals, to maintain an optimum blood pressure level. You also need to maintain healthy body weight to keep your blood pressure at a normal level.
Is a blood pressure machine safe for use at home?
The blood pressure machine is safe, and even a kid can use it at home. You only need to wrap the cuff tightly around your arm and switch on the device, which runs on battery.