Blood pressure measurement

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Blood pressure measurement
Blood pressure measurement with digital monitor

Blood pressure (BP) is the force of blood that comes from the heart, and is necessary for blood to be distributed and reach all the cells of the body to carry the oxygen and nutrients they need to function properly.

How to correctly measure blood pressure?

What is needed?

Blood pressure digital monitor
Blood pressure digital monitor
Manual sphygmomanometer
Blood pressure manual monitor

A mercury sphygmomanometer (also called a blood pressure monitor) or an aneroid sphygmomanometer (they are not as recommendable as they are less accurate and should be calibrated every 6 months) or you can also use an electronic or digital one. The sphygmomanometer consists of an inflatable cuff, which must be intact and must not have air leaks, a tube that must be flexible and also without leakage, and the bulb (which is the mechanism to inflate the cuff) that must have the same conditions as the tube and can be operated manually or electrically depending on the kind of sphygmomanometer. The connections must be adequate, the meter must be at zero when no pressure is applied.

Before carrying out the blood pressure measurement, it is recommended:

  • For the measurement to be as correct as possible, it is best to do it in the morning, on an empty stomach, after urinating and before taking any medication. (although you can do the measurement at any time of the day following the other recommendations)
  • The person must lie down or sit for 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Do not do the measurement after having exercised, being stressed, having ingested caffeine or having smoked. If you have made or present any of the above situations, it is best to at least wait approximately 30 minutes and make the respective measurement.

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Where can it be measured?

The blood pressure can be measured at home (since you have a calibrated blood pressure monitor and in good condition) and you can also go to a pharmacy or a health center if you do not have a blood pressure monitor at home.

How to measure blood pressure?

Here we will give you a step by step to measure your blood pressure with a digital sphygmomanometer with bulb, but it is usually very similar with other blood pressure monitors:

  1. Sit in a chair with your back supported, keep your feet apart and on the floor.
  2. If you have a long-sleeved shirt, preferably remove it (although you can roll it up if it does not press on your arm), so that your arm is left with nothing to obstruct the measurement.
  3. Place the sphygmomanometer bracelet on your left arm preferably (although it can be measured on any arm), taking into account to put it 2 to 3 centimeters above the elbow crease and secure it so that it is tightening the arm. (If you have a very thick arm for the bracelet, it will be necessary to change it for one that is more suitable for you).
  4. Turn on the blood pressure monitor.
  5. Place your arm on a table or on a flat surface so that your forearm is at the same level as your heart and leave your arm extended with the palm of your hand facing up. (Avoid talking while doing the measurement).
  6. Quickly press the pump to inflate the cuff and stop until the monitor tells you it reached 180 mmHg.
  7. Wait for the cuff to deflate and the blood pressure monitor to show you your blood pressure values.

If you have a manual sphygmomanometer, the way you can take the pressure is the same, however, you have to use the stethoscope that may or may not be included, which will help determine the pulse. 

When you put the bracelet you must place the stethoscope under it and operate the air pump until the meter reaches 180 mmHg or to the point that you hear nothing through the stethoscope; then start to open the valve slowly, releasing a little air, until you hear the first sound of the pulse you must mark that value as the first value of the pressure (systolic), and you continue emptying the air until you stop hearing any sound , what the pressure gauge indicates at that moment, you should mark it as the second value of the pressure (diastolic), when both values are combined then you have a full blood pressure (e.g. 120/80 mmHg).

Using the manual sphygmomanometer is not very simple (besides it must be calibrated frequently), so it must be used by someone with knowledge in nursing or medicine who can determine the exact moment to mark the values in the manometer.

If you prefer to see an example of how the measurement is made, you can see the following video showing how it is done:

(The sphygmomanometer used in the video is digital)

When a high initial measurement is evidenced, it does not mean that you are hypertensive, so it must be determined again after at least 30 seconds (preferably 1 minute) and then also other measurements on two different days, to make sure that you have hypertension.

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Normal blood pressure

Normal blood pressure for adults or people over 18 is in the range of 90/60 mmHg to 130/85 mmHg.

Keep in mind that the pressure changes throughout the day and night, and are also affected by external factors such as exercise (since it increases during the performance of this and decreases in rest), stress or strong emotions (scares, surprises or activities that alter your heart rate).

For a better understanding of the different ranges of blood pressure, here is a chart that will help you identify if you have some type of pre-hypertension, hypertension, hypotension or otherwise have the normal parameters of blood pressure:

Blood Pressure Chart
Blood pressure chart (in adults)

If you have hypertension, it is best to measure your blood pressure frequently, at least once a week, to maintain control of it.

If you are not hypertensive, it is recommended that you measure your blood pressure at least once a year to control it and prevent hypertension.

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How much does a sphygmomanometer cost?

A digital sphygmomanometer can cost about $ 30 on average, although this depends on the functionalities you are looking for and the type of digital sphygmomanometer, since there’s with pump to inflate and without pump (which is automatically inflated).

In general, they are usually in the range from 10 dollars (for manuals) to 100 dollars (which are the latest sphygmomanometers that are compatible with Android and iPhone phones).


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