CardioSpecialists Group, Ltd.
About Your Blood Pressure Test
What Is a Blood Pressure Test?
Blood pressure is the force your blood has on the artery walls as it is pumped through the body. When the heart muscle contracts, the pressure is highest and called systolic. At the relaxation phase of a heart beat, the blood pressure is diastolic. A blood pressure reading is always written as the systolic over the diastolic. Ideally, blood pressure should be between 120/80mm/Hg. Abnormal blood pressure levels often have no physical symptoms, and the only way to detect a problem is through blood pressure monitoring. Having high levels of blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke.
How Is the Blood Pressure Test Performed?
A blood pressure cuff is strapped to your arm, and the doctor or nurse inflates while listening to the artery in your arm with a stethoscope. The cuff is pumped so that the blood flow through the brachial artery in the arm is temporarily stopped. Slowly, the pressure is released until the blood begins to flow. The pressure of the cuff when the blood first flows back into the artery is the systolic number. This is when the heart contracts, and the next number recorded as the pressure in the cuff is reduced is the diastolic when total blood flow is restored and the heart muscle is relaxed.
A single test will not be enough for your doctor to make a diagnosis, and high results in the office could prompt your doctor to ask you to purchase a home blood pressure monitor to take daily readings which will be evaluated for overall trends.
After the Test
If repeated blood pressure readings are too high, your doctor might recommend lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise and reducing fat and salt in your diet. If these measures do not work, your doctor could prescribe blood pressure lowering medications.
Is It Safe?
Taking one's blood pressure is a non-invasive and painless procedure that is safe.