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What is arterial blood pressure?

Arterial blood pressure is the pressure exerted by blood against the walls of arteries. The heart acts like a pump and with each beat causes a certain level of the arterial pressure. There are two types of the arterial blood pressure: the highest one is called the maximum or systolic blood pressure and it corresponds to the contraction of the heart that pushes the blood into the arteries; the lowest measurement is called the minimum or diastolic blood pressure and corresponds to the pressure of the blood between two contractions.

Each increase of 10 mm Hg in blood pressure increases risk of progression of cardiovascular diseases by 30%. In people with high blood pressure, disorders of cerebral circulation (strokes) occur 7 times more often, ischemic heart disease – 4 times more often, damages of blood vessels of the legs – 4 times more often. Analysis of reasons for such frequent discomfort signs as headache, weakness, vertigo, should be started with measurement of blood pressure, in particular. In many cases regular blood pressure monitoring is required, and the measurements should be performed several times a day.

How is arterial blood pressure measured?

Arterial blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure monitor; its cuff should be wrapped around the upper arm or the wrist. Measurements should be performed after a five-minute rest, in the sitting or supine position. Upper arm pressure is measured while deflating the cuff. There are several types of devices used to measure blood pressure: digital blood pressure monitors with display of the measurements and aneroid sphygmomanometers.

What is hypertension?

Hypertension is defined as blood pressure equal or greater than 140/90 mm Hg on several blood pressure readings taken at rest at the doctor’s office. That means that a systolic pressure is/or above 140 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure is/or above 90 mm Hg.
Regular use of blood pressure monitor is important since it helps to detect hypertension – that generally asymptomatic – in the early stages.

What causes high arterial blood pressure?

In the great majority of cases high arterial blood pressure is called “essential”; in other words, the cause is unknown. In some patients with high blood pressure kidney and adrenal disorders are found. In these cases we speak about “secondary” or symptomatic hypertension. There are plenty of factors favouring high blood pressure. They are: skin pigmentation, genetic predisposition, age, overuse of salt, excessive alcohol consumption, etc.
However certain patients can normalize their arterial blood pressure level through lifestyle modifications. Particularly we would like to mention physical exercises, moderate salt and alcohol consumption, weight loss.

What are the consequences of high blood pressure?

An excessively high arterial blood pressure impairs blood vessels, making vessel walls thick and stiffer. Over time impact of this extra pressure can cause functional disorders of such organs as the heart, the brain or the kidneys. It remains a considerable risk factor in progression of cardiovascular diseases. Without corresponding therapy such consequences as heart attack and stroke can occur. Untreated arterial hypertension can cause kidney damage, stenocardia, paralysis, aphasia, and dementia.

Why is 3-5-minute interval necessary between pairs of measurements?

The interval is individual for each person and, as a rule, the older a person the longer interval between pairs of measurements is necessary. That is determined by reaction of the vessel walls to compression caused by the cuff.
If you make a new measurement without an interval, the blood pressure reading will deviate, typically to a lower number, since blood circulation has not yet adjusted. It is not recommended to make measurements several times a day for no particular reason as compression of the arteries does put extra stress on the vessels.

Every successive reading is lower than the previous one when arterial blood pressure measurements are made sequentially without interval. Why?

The reason is a time interval is insufficient for the vessels to readjust after compression. It’s enough to increase intervals between measurements to allow blood circulation to adjust.

Why do blood pressure readings can vary on different blood pressure monitors?

Almost all models of digital blood pressure monitors are equal in accuracy and reliability. Different blood pressure readings on different blood pressure monitors can be caused by the following reasons: blood pressure level is not a constant parameter: blood pressure is constantly changing based on unstable internal body parameters and side factors; measuring inaccuracy may occur when using aneroid sphygmomanometer, as the results are taken subjectively, and often are rounded off. Proper training is highly important for blood pressure measurement with an aneroid sphygmomanometer, as well as an accurate compliance with the measurement procedure; wrist blood pressure level differs from upper arm pressure level due to a long distance between the artery and the heart, moreover the difference can be caused by sclerotic changes of the blood vessels which appear with age; by all constitutional peculiarities, such us: poor vessel wall elasticity, deeply positioned blood vessels at the cuff area, extra layer of fat, etc.; too frequent measurements and short intervals in between cause arterial blood pressure jumps (due to reaction of the vessel walls to compression).