Step 6: Diagnosing high blood pressure
St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Senior's Center

Step 6: Diagnosing high blood pressure
Next Page

Every health care visit should include a measurement of your blood pressure. The procedure is quick, easy, and painless.

To measure blood pressure, your doctor or nurse uses an instrument called a "sphygmomanometer," more often referred to as a blood pressure cuff. The cuff is wrapped around your upper arm and inflated to briefly stop the flow of blood in the artery. As the cuff is slowly deflated, the blood begins to flow into the artery again. The doctor or nurse uses a stethoscope to listen to the blood pumping through that artery. When the doctor or nurse hears the first pumping sound, the number on the gauge is the systolic pressure. When the sound stops, the number is the diastolic pressure.

In general, a health care provider needs to take three separate abnormal blood pressure readings, done at least 1 week apart, to make a diagnosis of hypertension.

Guidelines for measuring blood pressure

Blood pressure readings can be inaccurate if the cuff does not fit properly or the patient has just exercised. In addition, some drinks can affect the readings. The following guidelines, set by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, can help improve the accuracy of your blood pressure measurement:

  • Do not smoke or exercise at least 30 minutes before a blood pressure measurement.
  • Do not drink caffeinated beverages or alcohol at least 30 minutes before a blood pressure measurement. Go to the bathroom so you have an empty bladder.
  • Sit in a chair with your back supported and your arm supported at heart level.
  • Sit for at least 5 minutes before your blood pressure is measured.
  • For greatest accuracy, your health care provider should take two or more measurements separated by at least 2 minutes. The readings should then be averaged.

White-coat hypertension

The term "white-coat hypertension" refers to when a person's blood pressure rises in the presence of a doctor or health care professional, then returns to normal at home. The phenomenon is fairly uncommon. To evaluate whether a person truly has white-coat hypertension, the doctor may ask a patient to monitor their blood pressure at home or use an ambulatory blood pressure monitor. In many cases, people who believe they just have white-coat hypertension also have high blood pressure at other times away from the doctor's office.

 

Next Page

Review Date: 6/8/2011
Reviewed By: Steven Kang, MD, Division of Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology, East Bay Arrhythmia, Cardiovascular Consultants Medical Group, Oakland, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Back  |  Top
About Us
Contact Us
History
Mission
Locations & Directions
Quality Reports
Annual Reports
Honors & Awards
Community Health Needs
Assessment

Newsroom
Services
Brain & Spine
Cancer
Heart
Maternity
Orthopedics
Pulmonary
Sleep Medicine
Urgent Care
Women's Services
All Services
Patients & Visitors
Locations & Directions
Find a Physician
Tour St. Luke's
Patient & Visitor Information
Contact Us
Payment Options
Financial Assistance
Send a Card
Mammogram Appointments
Health Tools
My Personal Health
mystlukes
Spirit of Women
Health Information & Tools
Clinical Trials
Health Risk Assessments
Employer Programs -
Passport to Wellness

Classes & Events
Classes & Events
Spirit of Women
Donate & Volunteer
Giving Opportunities
Volunteer
Physicians & Employees
For Physicians
Remote Access
Medical Residency Information
Pharmacy Residency Information
Physician CPOE Training
Careers
Careers
St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile