How one should measure arterial pressure

Arterial pressure should be measured while the patient is lying down, and after they have rested for several minutes. The patient must feel calm and relaxed.

Arterial pressure is measured by using an apparatus called a sphygmomanometer or a blood pressure meter, which can be purchased at any pharmacy. The sphygmomanometer is composed of an inflatable cuff to collapse and then release the artery under the cuff in a controlled manner, and a mercury or mechanical manometer to measure the pressure.

It is always used in conjunction with a means to determine at what pressure blood flow is just starting, and at what pressure it is unimpeded. Manual sphygmomanometers are used in conjunction with a stethoscope. The cuff must first be fully deflated and it is placed in the bottom third of the arm above the elbow.

Following this, one uses the pump to inflate the cuff and block the circulation in the arm, or until the manometer marks the 160-170 mmHg mark.

Following this, one begins to slowly deflate the cuff, and the pulse gradually returns, which can be heard by using the stethoscope. The first pulse heard beating indicates the maximal pressure (systolic pressure), and as the first beat disappears, this indicates the diastolic (minimal) pressure.

This procedure should be repeated three times as a rule of thumb, and an average of all three measurements is taken. It is wise to measure the pressure on both arms, at least for the patient’s first visit, since values are usually higher when measurements are conducted on the right arm. 

This is done because there are many patients who have vascular anomalies, and due to this, the variation of pressure in both arms is too high.  

It is of distinct importance to measure arterial pressure even when not at the doctor’s office, under different circumstances.
If the patient has been experiencing high arterial pressure, treatment cannot be immediately initiated. This is because physicians cannot immediately distinguish whether hypertension has begun or not.

The patient is recommended to measure their arterial pressure over the course of 7 to 10 days, from once up to twice a day, plot the data on a graph and show their physician.
Following this, the physician must decide whether treatment is necessary or not.  

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 26 Mar 2018
Medical Author: Dr. med. Diana Hysi