Blood pressure is measured by a devise known as sphygmomanometer which consists of a stethoscope, arm cuff, dial, pump, and valve. You can have your blood pressure read by a health care provider or at a pharmacy. You can also purchase a blood pressure monitor for your home but it is important to have it checked by your doctor for reliability.[pq]Blood pressure or BP is recorded as two numbers: systolic (maximum pressure during a heartbeat) and diastolic (lowest pressure between heartbeats).[/pq]
It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and is written systolic over diastolic (for example, 120/80 mm Hg, or “120 over 80”).
According to the most recent guidelines, a normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg and that which is greater than 140/90 is considered hypertension. For people over age 60, high blood pressure is defined as 150/90 or greater. Prehypertension consists of BP that is 120 to 139/80 to 89.
Your BP may increase or decrease depending on your age, heart condition, emotions, activity, and the medications you take. One high reading does not mean you have high blood pressure. It is necessary to measure your blood pressure at different times, while you are resting comfortably for at least five minutes. To make the diagnosis of hypertension, at least three readings that are elevated are usually required.
In addition to measuring your BP, your doctor will ask about your medical history (whether you’ve had heart problems before), assess your risk factors (whether you smoke, have high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.), and talk about your family history (whether any members of your family have had high blood pressure or heart disease).
Your doctor will also conduct a physical exam to examine your heart for any abnormal sounds and your arteries for any whooshing or swishing that may indicate partial blockage. He may also check the pulses in your arm and ankle to determine if they are weak or even absent.
If you are diagnosed with hypertension, your doctor may recommend other tests, such as Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) which measures the electrical activity, rate, and rhythm of your heartbeat or Echocardiogram which uses ultrasound waves to provide pictures of the heart’s valves and chambers.
– Medical Observer