High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Quick GuideHigh Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Warning Signs, Risks, Medications

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Warning Signs, Risks, Medications

How is blood pressure measured?

Blood pressure is measured by a blood pressure cuff (sphygmomanometer). The blood pressure cuff consists of an air pump, a pressure gauge, and a rubber cuff. The instrument measures the blood pressure in units called millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

The cuff is placed around the upper arm and inflated with an air pump to a pressure that blocks the flow of blood in the main artery that travels through the arm. The arm is held at the side of the body at the level of the heart, and the pressure of the cuff is gradually released. As the pressure decreases, a health practitioner listens with a stethoscope over the artery at the front of the elbow or an electronic machine senses the pulsation. The pressure at which the practitioner (or machine) first hears a pulsation from the artery is the systolic pressure (the top number). As the cuff pressure decreases further, the pressure at which the pulsation finally stops is the diastolic pressure (the bottom number). Continue Reading

Reviewed on 2/18/2014
References
REFERENCES:

"About High Blood Pressure." American Heart Association. 22 Jan. 2013.

"Physical Activity and Blood Pressure." American Heart Association. 11 Feb. 2014.

"Understanding Blood Pressure Readings." American Heart Association. 1 Mar. 2013.

"How Is High Blood Pressure Treated?" National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. 2 Aug. 2012.

"Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH." National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Apr. 2006.

Kaplan, N. M., et al. "Overview of hypertension in adults." UpToDate. 14 Jan. 2014.

Mann, J. F. E., et al. "Choice of therapy in primary (essential) hypertension: Recommendations." UpToDate. 7 Jan. 2014.

IMAGES:

1. iStock

2. iStock

3. Getty Images/Stockbyte

4. MedicineNet

5. iStock

6. iStock, Getty Images/Blend Images/

7. CDC

8. iStock

9. iStock

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Heart Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • High Blood Pressure - Diet

    Have you changed your diet to try to bring down your high blood pressure?

    Post View 4 Comments
  • High Blood Pressure - Treatment

    Do you take medication to treat your high blood pressure?

    Post View 27 Comments
  • High Blood Pressure - Symptoms

    What symptoms do you have from your high blood pressure?

    Post View 41 Comments
  • High Blood Pressure - Readings

    Is your blood pressure reading high, low, or normal?

    Post View 14 Comments
  • High Blood Pressure - Causes

    Do you know if genetic factors, high salt intake, or arterial stiffness caused your high blood pressure?

    Post View 4 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors