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How To Test For High Blood Pressure

Various Tests To Diagnose High Blood Pressure Evaluate Organ Damage And Monitor Antihypertensive Drug Therapy

How to test for Artery Stiffness | High Blood Pressure series

Written by Dr Anitha Anchan | Published : May 27, 2016 2:20 PM IST

Blood pressure is one of the critically important vital signs of life. It is the force exerted by circulating blood on the walls of the blood vessel as the heart pumps blood. It is expressed as systolic/diastolic blood pressure. Maximum pressure in the arteries as the ventricles of the heart contracts and pushes blood out is called the systolic blood pressure . A normal systolic blood pressure is 120 mm Hg or below. The pressure in the arteries as the heart muscle relaxes following its contraction is called diastolic blood pressure . Normal diastolic blood pressure ranges between 60 and 80 mm Hg.

Latest JNC guidelines of hypertension

According to the new guidelines by the Eighth Joint National Committee:

Blood Test And Detecting High Blood Pressure

A blood test can tell you many things, but having high blood pressure is not one of them. The only way to detect and diagnose high blood pressure is from measuring your blood pressure . A diagnosis of high blood pressure is made when your blood pressure is consistently measured at a high level.

There are a few different ways to measure your blood pressure. You can do it at home with a home blood pressure monitor. I highly recommend 3 affordable, high quality home monitors. You can check out my blog post on those by . In addition, blood pressure can be measured in a pharmacy, which I dont recommend or at your physicians office.

Your home blood pressure measurements can be a great benefit when determining a high blood pressure diagnosis but cant be relied on solely. Receiving accurate measurements by performing the correct techniques is critical. I wrote a whole blog post on that which you can read here. Your home blood pressure readings should be taken along with you to your next doctor appointment.

A doctor will use the following to help make a diagnosis of high blood pressure:

  • Your home measurements
  • The medical office BP measurements
  • Medical history
  • Family history
  • Physical exam

The new blood pressure guidelines released in 2017, changed what measurement determines a high blood pressure reading. Blood pressure rises from elevated to High Blood Pressure Stage 1, when systolic measures 130-139 mmHg or diastolic measures 80-89 mmHg.

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Purpose Of Hypertension Blood Tests

Blood test for hypertension patients has three objectives are secondary hypertension causes, know whether hypertension caused organ damage, and know your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Evaluation of hypertension patients has three objectives they are:

  • Diagnose or rule out a secondary cause of high blood pressure .
  • Check whether the high blood pressure has caused target organ damage .
  • Check risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, such as a high-cholesterol level or high blood-glucose level .

Obtain all this required information from your medical history, physical examination, laboratory investigations and other diagnostic procedures.

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What Are The Complications Of Uncontrolled Hypertension

  • Chest pain, also called angina.
  • Heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked and heart muscle cells die from lack of oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
  • Heart failure, which occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to other vital body organs.
  • Irregular heart beat which can lead to a sudden death.

When Should I Get My Blood Pressure Tested

You can ask for a blood pressure test if you’re worried about your blood pressure at any point.

You can get your blood pressure tested at a number of places, including:

  • your local GP surgery
  • at home
  • at an NHS Health Check appointment offered to adults in England aged 40-74

It’s recommended that all adults over 40 years of age have their blood pressure tested at least every 5 years so any potential problems can be detected early.

If you’ve already been diagnosed with high or low blood pressure, or you’re at a particularly high risk of these problems, you may need to have more frequent tests to monitor your blood pressure.

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Eat Less Meat More Plants

A plant-based diet is an easy way to increase fiber and reduce the amount of sodium and unhealthy saturated and trans fat you take in from dairy foods and meat. Increase the number of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, and whole grains youre eating. Instead of red meat, opt for healthier lean proteins like fish, poultry, or tofu.

What’s The Impact Of Having High Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Measurement: How to Check Blood Pressure Manually

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for developing cardiovascular diseases such as:

  • coronary heart disease – where the main arteries that supply your heart become clogged up with plaques
  • strokes – a serious condition where the blood supply to your brain is interrupted
  • heart attacks – a serious condition where the blood supply to part of your heart is blocked

Diabetes and kidney disease are also linked to high blood pressure complications.

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How Does Blood Pressure Work

Blood pressure is the force against blood vessel walls as the heart pumps blood. When the heart squeezes and pushes blood into the vessels, blood pressure goes up. It comes down when the heart relaxes.

Blood pressure changes from minute to minute. It’s affected by activity and rest, body temperature, diet, emotions, posture, and medicines.

Regular Blood Pressure Checks If Diagnosed With High Blood Pressure

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your blood pressure will need to be closely monitored until it is brought under control.

After your blood pressure has been controlled, your GP or practice nurse will measure your blood pressure at agreed regular intervals .

It is important you attend these appointments to ensure your blood pressure is being maintained within an acceptable range.

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How To Use A Home Blood Pressure Monitor

  • Be still. Don’t smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Empty your bladder and ensure at least 5 minutes of quiet rest before measurements.
  • Sit correctly.Sit with your back straight and supported . Your feet should be flat on the floor and your legs should not be crossed. Your arm should be supported on a flat surface with the upper arm at heart level. Make sure the bottom of the cuff is placed directly above the bend of the elbow. Check your monitor’s instructions for an illustration or have your healthcare provider show you how.
  • Measure at the same time every day. Its important to take the readings at the same time each day, such as morning and evening. It is best to take the readings daily however ideally beginning 2 weeks after a change in treatment and during the week before your next appointment.
  • Take multiple readings and record the results. Each time you measure, take two or three readings one minute apart and record the results using a tracker. If your monitor has built-in memory to store your readings, take it with you to your appointments. Some monitors may also allow you to upload your readings to a secure website after you register your profile.
  • Don’t take the measurement over clothes.
and/or HIGHER THAN 120

Note: A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. A doctor should also evaluate any unusually low blood pressure readings.

Other Tests For High Blood Pressure

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In addition to a blood test, other tests will be recommended to help determine the cause of your high blood pressure and treatment. They are not used to detect high blood pressure. Those tests may include the following:

Urine test: A urine test can help determine a cause of high blood pressure. This test may show possible diabetes, kidney problems or drugs contributing to high blood pressure.

Echocardiogram: This uses sound waves to create pictures of your heart . It can help determine the following problems which may affect blood pressure:

  • Hearts pumping strength.
  • Any growths or tumors around your valves.
  • Any problems with blood vessels around the heart.
  • Holes in the heart chambers.
  • Blood clots.

Electrocardiogram: An EKG assesses your heart rhythm . If your heart rhythm is abnormal, it can affect your blood pressure.

Cat Scan or MRI: These 2 tests allow a doctor to see inside your body . For high blood pressure, this test may detect any tumors, blood clots or excess fluid on or around your kidneys or adrenal glands.

Ultrasound: This test can show a doctor any blood flow problems by checking blood vessels and kidneys. To expand ultrasound testing, recently a small patch was created that can attach to the skin like a bandage. The patch contains ultrasound transducers and can be placed over any artery selected .

The testing mentioned can help a doctor recommend a treatment for high blood pressure. One of those treatments is your nutrition.

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Taking Your Pulse Versus Checking Your Blood Pressure

While both are indications of health, blood pressure and heart rate are two separate measurements. Learn more about the difference between blood pressure and heart rate.

Systolic is less than 120 and my diastolic is less than 80

Great job! Your blood pressure is normal. To keep your readings in this range, stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.

Systolic is 120 129 and my diastolic is less than 80

The good news is that you dont have high blood pressure. However, your numbers fall within the Elevated category, making you more likely to develop high blood pressure unless you take action to control it. Ready to make some small changes that have big impacts? Healthy lifestyle choices are a great place to start.

Systolic is 130 139 or my diastolic is 80 89

You are in the first stage of hypertension, but there are actions you can take to get your blood pressure under control. Your doctor will speak to you about small changes that can make a big difference and other BP Raisers. In addition, monitoring blood pressure outside of the doctors office is important for BP control.

Systolic is 140 or higher or my diastolic is 90 or higher

Systolic is higher than 180 and/or my diastolic is higher than 120

Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.

What Increases Your Risk

Things that increase your risk for high blood pressure include:

    • A family history of high blood pressure.
    • Aging.
    • Eating a lot of sodium .
    • Drinking more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day or more than 14 drinks a week for men or 9 drinks a week for women.
    • Being overweight or obese.
    • Lack of exercise or physical activity.
    • Race. People of African, South Asian, First Nations, Inuit or Metis descent are more likely to get high blood pressure, often have more severe high blood pressure, and are more likely to get the condition at an earlier age than others. Why they are at greater risk is not known.

Other possible risk factors include:

    • Low intake of potassium.
    • Sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing.
    • Long-term use of pain medicines like NSAIDsfor example, naproxen or ibuprofen or COX-2 inhibitors, such as celecoxib . Aspirin does not increase your risk for getting high blood pressure.

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Tests To Measure Your Blood Pressure

If you have a high blood pressure reading, your doctor might want you to have more readings to find out if you have high blood pressure over a longer period. There are a number of ways to get a better idea of your blood pressure:

  • having your blood pressure checked a number of times at your doctors surgery over a few weeks or months
  • measuring your blood pressure at home using a
  • 24-hour ambulatory home blood pressure monitoring where you wear a small blood pressure monitor around your waist that takes regular readings for 24 hours.

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will advise you to make healthy changes to your , and might talk to you about to lower your blood pressure. You might also have some other tests to get a better idea of your overall health, see below.

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What Tests Diagnose High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff . This may be done using a stethoscope and a cuff and gauge or by an automatic machine. It is a routine part of the physical examination and one of the vital signs often recorded for a patient visit. Other vital signs include pulse rate, respiratory rate , temperature, and weight.

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend specific steps to measure blood pressure in a medical setting.

  • The patient should relax in a chair for at least five minutes, with the back supported and feet on the floor
  • The patient should not have had caffeine, tobacco products or participated in any exercise for at least 30 minutes before the blood pressure check
  • The patient should not talk for the five minute rest period
  • The blood pressure cuff should not be placed over clothing instead it should be placed directly on the skin
  • The arm being tested should be supported or be rested on a table or arm rest
  • The cuff being used should be the appropriate size for the patient
  • Blood pressure should be checked at least two times, separated by 1-2 minutes, and an average taken to estimate that personâs blood pressure
  • For the first visit for a blood pressure check, the blood pressure reading should be measured in both arms and the higher of the two readings should be used to decide upon treatment

Other studies may be considered depending upon the individual patient’s needs


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