To take a blood pressure measurement, your health
professional will usually follow these steps:
You will be asked to sit down with your arm
supported at heart level.
A cuff made of a rubber sac that fills
with air will be wrapped around your upper arm.
professional will seal the cuff and pump it up until you feel pressure around
First, your systolic blood pressure—the pressure when
your heart contracts—will be taken. The cuff will be tightened to a pressure
higher than your systolic blood pressure value. At this point, your pulse
cannot be heard through a stethoscope. Next, the pressure from the cuff will be
reduced. When the cuff pressure drops to the same level as your systolic blood
pressure, the health professional will be able to hear your pulse. This will
allow a reading of your systolic blood pressure.
diastolic blood pressure—the pressure when your heart relaxes—will be taken.
The health professional will continue to release the pressure from the cuff
after taking your systolic blood pressure. Your pulse will remain audible until
the pressure in the cuff is the same as your diastolic blood pressure. This
allows a reading of your diastolic blood pressure.
Although blood pressure measurements taken at your doctor's
office may be more precise than other types of measurements, even a
professional reading of your blood pressure may change from time to time. Your
blood pressure changes for many reasons, including exercise, stress,
relaxation, time of day, alcohol intake, caffeine, or medicines.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.