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How is blood pressure measured?

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A doctor or nurse will measure your blood pressure with a small gauge attached to an inflatable cuff. It’s simple and painless.

The person taking your blood pressure wraps the cuff around your upper arm. Some cuffs go around the forearm or wrist, but often they're not as accurate.

Your doctor or nurse will use a stethoscope to listen to the blood moving through your artery.

She’ll inflate the cuff to a pressure higher than your systolic blood pressure, and it will tighten around your arm. Then she'll release it. As the cuff deflates, the first sound she hears through the stethoscope is the systolic blood pressure. It sounds like a whooshing noise. The point where this noise goes away marks the diastolic blood pressure.

In a blood pressure reading, the systolic number always comes first, and then the diastolic number. For example, your numbers may be "120 over 80" or written as 120/80.

From: Know Your Blood Pressure Numbers WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES: : Patient Page: "Hypertension." American Heart Association: "Understanding Blood Pressure Readings," "What is High Blood Pressure?" AHA HeartHub for Patients: "High Blood Pressure."  "The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure." American College of Cardiology: "2017 Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults."




JAMAJAMA:

Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy on November 17, 2017

SOURCES: : Patient Page: "Hypertension." American Heart Association: "Understanding Blood Pressure Readings," "What is High Blood Pressure?" AHA HeartHub for Patients: "High Blood Pressure."  "The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure." American College of Cardiology: "2017 Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults."




JAMAJAMA:

Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy on November 17, 2017

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