Blood Pressure Measurements….Not Quite as Simple as Inches or Pounds!

by Harry Webb
(San Diego, California, USA)

Perhaps one of the most common problems human beings face today in terms of their biology is that of blood pressure. The pressure exerted by blood pumping through a human body can change rapidly due to so many different reasons.

Thus, it has become commonplace for medical practitioners to check a patient’s blood pressure as one of the first tests when a problem occurs.

People also have begun to check their own blood pressure in the comfortof home, because catching either high or low blood pressure could very well mean catching something more serious early enough for it to be worked on. Just how, though, is blood pressure measured?

There are two main ways in which blood pressure is measured in a human being. These are through invasive and non-invasive procedures.

The most accurate way to measure arterial blood pressure (the most common pressure to test for) is through an invasive procedure. In such a procedure, a plastic tube known as a cannula is placed into a blood vessel and connected to an electronic pressure transducer.

The pressure of the blood pumping through arteries is stronger than anywhere else in the body, and since the cannula is within the artery itself, it is able to gather the most precise data.

Usually, invasive procedures are used in intensive care situations, anesthesiology, and for research purposes. Other times, blood pressure is measured through non-invasive procedures.

Non-invasive procedures provide a way to measure blood pressure that limits the discomfort of a patient at the expense of accuracy. These procedures are also easier to perform and can be done at home by patients on a regular basis.

Non-invasive treatments involve a sphygmomanometer, the cuff that most of us are familiar with. These cuffs are placed around the upper arm and filled with air pressure.

The cuff then measures the pressure of blood as it presses against the inflated material and gives a blood pressure number, although it is usually not a precise one. Still, this technique gives an approximate figure that is used in most medical cases.

While there are a few other ways in which blood pressure could be measured, these two are by the far the most preferred methods used today, and out of the two, non-invasive procedures are normally chosen over invasive ones.

Whether you go to a doctor or by an at-home sphygmomanometer, yourblood pressure will most likely be measured through a non-invasive technique.