Measuring Blood Pressure – The Star Among Health Parameters

Measuring Blood Pressure – The Star Among Health Parameters

This comprehensive guide takes an in-depth look at the important topic of measuring blood pressure. Whether you want to measure your own blood pressure or simply better understand this critical health parameter, we at CARE will explain everything you need to know about measuring blood pressure.

Blog Author Jris Health Coach at CARE
Jris Bernet

Health Coach EN

Published in General Health
5 min read · Mar 03, 2024

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What is Blood Pressure Anyway?

Almost everyone knows what it is, but could you explain to someone in-detail what blood pressure is? If yes, kudos to you! If not, we'll be happy to explain it to you.

Blood pressure is the pressure that the blood circulating in your body exerts on the walls of your blood vessels. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and has two main components: systolic pressure, which occurs during ventricular contraction, and diastolic pressure, which is measured during the relaxation phase of your heart.

In fact, your heart is a large and complex muscle, the cardiac muscle or myocardium, that keeps blood circulating through your body.

A normal blood pressure reading for adults is usually around 120/80 mmHg. [1]

Abnormal blood pressure levels can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or be an indication of certain conditions, which is why regular monitoring and control of blood pressure is important.

Now let's get to how to measure blood pressure properly.

How Do I Measure My Blood Pressure?

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Do you want to measure your blood pressure or want to know how it's done? There are two main methods of measuring blood pressure: direct and indirect blood pressure measurement.

Depending on the motivation for measuring blood pressure, the doctor or nurse will decide which method to use. Chances are quite high that your blood pressure has been detected only by indirect measurement so far.

Let's take a closer look at the two methods:

The Direct Blood Pressure Measurement – Measuring “Directly in” Your Body

Direct blood pressure measurement, also called invasive blood pressure measurement, involves inserting a catheter into an artery to measure your blood pressure directly.

This method is very accurate and is usually performed in a clinic or hospital setting. This type of blood pressure measurement is usually performed only in medical situations where it is urgently needed – in the intensive care unit, in case of severe hypotension (extremely low blood pressure) or hypertension (extremely high blood pressure), or during cardiology exams. [2]

In some cases, direct long-term blood pressure measurement over an extended period of time, such as a 24-hour measurement, may be necessary to monitor specific cardiovascular diseases or medical conditions more closely.

Because invasive blood pressure measurement carries a certain risk of infection as a catheter is put into your artery, blood pressure is only measured directly, or more specifically invasively, when the situation warrants the potential risks.

Indirect Blood Pressure Measurement – The Upper Arm Cuff

Indirect blood pressure measurement is the most widely used routine method that probably all of us have gone through. This method is non-invasive and does not require catheterization of the artery. It is based on the use of a sphygmomanometer and a blood pressure cuff that is fastened around your upper arm.

And how is this measurement performed?

Indirect blood pressure measurement is performed by placing an inflatable cuff around the patient's arm, typically just above the elbow. The cuff is connected to a blood pressure monitor. The device pumps air into the cuff to increase the pressure in the cuff and temporarily depress the artery in the arm. This is when the cuff squeezes your upper arm tightly.

Then the air is slowly released from the cuff while a stethoscope is placed on the artery below the cuff, usually above the crook of the arm or at the wrist. The physician or health care professional listens for the sound of blood flow in the artery (Korotkoff sounds) while monitoring the manometer to measure systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

When measuring blood pressure, several important points must be observed to obtain accurate results:

The Position – Sitting in An Upright Position

It is recommended to sit in an upright position during blood pressure measurement. [3]

Sit on a chair with a backrest and place the arm to be measured on a stable surface. Make sure the arm is at heart level for accurate measurement.

No Coffee or Alcohol Consumption Before Blood Pressure Measurement

Excessive coffee or alcohol consumption should be avoided before blood pressure measurements, as caffeine and alcohol can temporarily affect blood pressure. You should not consume coffee or alcohol at least 30 minutes before the measurement. [4]

After your blood pressure is measured, you will get two readings. How can you interpret them?

Blood Pressure Values – What Do My Blood Pressure Values Mean?

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Interpreting blood pressure readings is essential to understanding your measurement results. Blood pressure is expressed in two values: systolic and diastolic.

Systolic blood pressure is a high reading and indicates the pressure when your heart is contracting, while diastolic blood pressure is a low reading and indicates the pressure during the relaxation phase of your heart.

There is a certain range that is considered normal blood pressure. A systolic pressure below 120 mmHg and a diastolic pressure below 80 mmHg are considered optimal. [1] A systolic pressure of 120-129 mmHg and/or a diastolic pressure of 80-84 mmHg or less than 80mmHg is considered normal. [1]

Higher values may indicate hypertension (high blood pressure) and lower values may indicate hypotension (low blood pressure). [1]

How Often Should You Measure Your Blood Pressure?

The frequency of blood pressure measurements depends on several factors, such as your health status, age, and family history of high blood pressure.

Do you have a family history of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease? If so, you may need to measure your blood pressure more frequently.

Regular blood pressure monitoring is recommended if you already have high blood pressure or are at risk for high blood pressure.

CARE – Your Reliable Companion For Monitoring Blood Pressure

At CARE we measure your blood pressure regularly, to check for anomalies and to track its development. Your measures are safely stored within the CARE App, so that you have full access to your own health data. The app offers you the chance to keep track of your own health and to prioritize it.

List of References

Blog Author Jris Health Coach at CARE

Jris Bernet

Health Coach EN at CARE Zurich

About the author

Jris is a health coach (nerd) and blog author at CARE. She has many years of experience as a coach for classic lifestyle conditions such as diabetes and women's health. She enjoys facilitating health challenges and courses. Fasting, keto, sleep, women's health and biohacking - Jris feels at home in these topics. When she's not working for CARE, she loves to listen to health podcasts and try out new (health) gadgets. Her credo: "It's never too late to start living a new lifestyle."