Ways & How

How to Measure Blood Pressure

How to Measure Blood Pressure

There are several devices you can use to measure your blood pressure, such as aneroid manometer, mercury blood pressure gauge, and electronic (digital) blood pressure monitor. Among medical students, one of the basics they need to master is how to measure blood pressure accurately. To them, as long as the BP device is recently calibrated, then it is capable of yielding accurate results. Blood pressure, abbreviated as BP, refers to the pressure that blood in your body against the blood vessel walls. Your BP can vary from a maximum or systolic to minimum or diastolic pressure depending on your heartbeat. Also, your BP can rapidly drop in the smaller arterioles and arteries. It continues to lower as your blood further traverses capillaries. Your BP can change each day and even every minute. To properly monitor your blood pressure, it best to keep a log of your BP with the corresponding date and time. You can also record the medicines you have taken or are currently taking so your doctor can examine it later on for a proper diagnosis and prescription. To take your BP, here are the basic.



  1. Before taking your BP, ensure first that you are neither upset nor nervous. Also, it is better if you have not undergone physically demanding work, smoked, or eaten in the last 30 minutes or so. Moreover, do not take medicine that can increase your BP like nasal sprays. Sit down in a very relaxed position, and your feet should be flat on the ground.

  2. Assuming that you are using manual BP monitor, sit down somewhere comfortable and slowly bend your arm over a table. Make sure that your upper arm and heart are level.

  3. Donít tense your arm. Roll upward the sleeve of your shirt upward to expose your upper arm so you can wrap the BP cuff around it. Ensure the cuffís lower edge is at least 1 inch above your elbow. Verify the tightness of the cuff. It must not be too tight however. As long as you can insert a finger in between the cuff and your skin, then itís okay.

  4. Inflate the cuff. The valve right on the inflating bulb must be closed at this time. Squeeze the bulb over and over until you notice that the mercury tube dial reaches 30 mm Hg over and above the normal systolic pressure. In case you are not aware yet of your usual BP, the cuff may be inflated to 210 mm Hg. Notice that while cuff is inflated, the flow of the blood in your arm will momentarily stop.

  5. Place a stethoscope on the artery just above your elbow. This large artery is very easy to locate by just feeling for the pulse. In case your BP cuff has a built-in stethoscope, make sure it is sitting right over your artery.

  6. Slightly release the bulbís valve. The numbers on the mercury tube dial will gradually fall at a rate of 1 to 3 mm Hg in a second.

  7. Get your systolic BP. Closely listen to your stethoscope. While looking at the falling numbers, take note of the number at the moment you hear somewhat like a tapping sound. This is your systolic BP caused by the movement of the blood into the artery.

  8. Get your diastolic BP. As you continue to release air, you will hear a soft sound that will eventually disappear. When the sound is completely gone, note the numbers as that is your diastolic BP. Then, release all the air remaining and take off the cuff.

Doctors advise taking a 5-minute rest for a better measure of your BP. Donít be surprised if your blood pressures are not the same throughout a day. If you have BP issues, it is still useful if you know how to measure blood pressure.

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