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Taking blood pressure

Blood pressure – Fitness tests.

Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure exerted by the circulating blood on our blood vessels. In each heart beat the blood pressure varies between the maximum (systolic) and the minimum (diastolic) pressure. Blood pressure is usually expressed as diastolic over systolic e.g. 60/120.

Blood pressure is usually measured on the upper arm on the inside of the elbow which is the Brachial artery.

How to measure blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer

There are two types of sphygmomanometer  a manual which we will be detailing here and an electronic which is very simple to use.

Manual sphygmomanometer

  1. First ensure your subject is properly relaxed, stress and exercise will likely increase blood pressure and we are looking for a resting blood pressure. So allow them to sit for 2-5 minutes and relax.
  2. Next strap the cuff to across the lower part of their upper arm above the elbow. Make the tension in the strap comfortable to start, but tight enough so it won’t slip. Also ensure there is no clothing in between the cuff and the arm.
  3. Using  the stethoscope place the head over the brachial artery and apply light pressure. The brachial Artery is located centrally on the inside of the arm (the opposite side to the elbow and inline).
  4. Using the rubber bung inflate the cuff until you no longer hear the heart through the brachial artery, approximately 200mmHg on the pressure gauge.. This will mean you have cut off circulation.
  5. Using the pressure valve on the rubber bung, deflate the cuff slowly until you hear a thumping sound (The clinical name for this is “Korotkoff sounds”) The systolic pressure is the reading from the pressure gauge at this point.
  6. Again allow the cuff to deflate until you hear a second set of whooshing sound (The clinical name for this is ” 4th Korotkoff sounds”)) this means you are close to the Diastolic blood pressure, when the sound fades to silence this is you’re the diastolic pressure.

Blood pressure results

The table below gives an indication of what the blood pressure results mean.

Again ALWAYS remember the subject must be relaxed when you take the readings as this will significantly effect the results.

If the blood pressure is high or Low it is strongly advisable to consult a medical proffessional before engaging in exercise. It is very likely they will encourage exercise, however it is always best to check.

Tkaing blood pressure results