Home About AllHealth Website Sitemap Contact Us
All Health 
You are here: Home > Pregnancy > Complications - High BP /eclampsia (hidden) [38.1.1] > blood pressure test


blood pressure test

Images    (Click to view larger image)

Sphygmomanometer (Blood Pressure Meter)

Alternative Names 
diastolic BP, diastolic blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, systolic BP, BP

This test measures the force that blood exerts against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood through the arteries.

High blood pressure can increase the risk of kidney failure, heart failure, stroke, which is a blood clot in the brain, and heart attack. It is important for everyone to know what his or her blood pressure is, so that changes can be made if it is not within a healthy range.

How is the test performed? 
A person is seated with his or her bare arm resting on a table. The arm is bent at the elbow so that it sits at the same level as the heart. A blood pressure cuff is placed on the upper arm and inflated. A technician wearing a stethoscope listens carefully as air is slowly let out of the cuff. He or she notes the systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic pressure is the blood pressure at the time the heart is contracted. Diastolic pressure is the blood pressure at the time the heart is relaxed.

What is involved in preparation for the test? 
A person should request specific instructions from his or her doctor or nurse.

What do the test results mean? 
The ideal systolic pressure is around 120 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). The ideal diastolic pressure is 70 to 80 mm Hg. These values are usually expressed as a ratio such as 120/70.

Blood pressure lower than normal is called hypotension.

Blood pressure higher than normal is called hypertension. In cases of mild hypertension, the diastolic pressure is consistently 90 to 99 mm Hg. In cases of severe hypertension, the systolic pressure is 180 - 209 mm Hg, and the diastolic pressure is above 110 - 119 mm Hg.

Blood pressure readings may be affected by:
  • heart disorders.
  • conditions that affect the nervous system.
  • kidney disorders.
  • pregnancy-induced hypertension, or a condition marked by very high blood pressure in pregnant women.
  • emotions like fear, anger or stress.
  • certain medications.
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 17/11/2004
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


Back Email a Friend View Printable Version Bookmark This Page


eknowhow | The World's Best Websites
    Privacy Policy and Disclaimer