Measuring blood pressure correctly is key to diagnosing high blood pressure. You or another trained individual can take that measurement.
If you notice that your healthcare provider isn’t measuring your blood pressure accurately, don’t hesitate to tell him. It’s your life, your health, and your future that I’m talking about.
Much goes into an accurate blood pressure measurement. It requires a properly working instrument, a patient who is physically and mentally prepared for the measurement, and someone who knows how to measure blood pressure properly. And after it’s done properly, it needs to be repeated to be sure of the numbers.
Following a diagnosis of high blood pressure, the evaluation process determines whether there is a secondary cause for the high blood pressure.
The instrument that measures your blood pressure is a sphygmomanometer(pronounced sfig-mo-ma-nom-et-er). However, It can also be called a blood pressure gauge and is much simpler.
The blood pressure gauge consists of a cuff that goes around your arm above the elbow. The bladder is the part of the cuff that fills with air. A tube connects the cuff to a column of mercury (that looks like an outdoor thermometer) at one end and a rubber bulb at the other. When the rubber bulb is squeezed, the air pressure in this closed system forces the column of mercury to rise as the bladder fills with air. Numbers along the column of mercury indicate how much pressure is present.
The mercury blood pressure gauge is the gold standard for blood pressure measurement. Very little can cause this device to malfunction because the column of mercury is the only moving part. Note: The mercury blood pressure gauge is becoming less common because mercury is toxic and has the potential to contaminate the environment.
An alternative blood pressure gauge that’s rising in popularity is the aneroid blood pressure gauge — a spring-gauge model that uses air pressure to move a needle on a scale. Each degree the needle moves represents one millimeter of mercury. This gauge is inexpensive and easier to transport than the mercury blood pressure gauge.