Modern Medicine

How does a sphygmomanometer read your blood pressure?
Answered by Discovery Fit & Health
  • Discovery Fit & Health

    Discovery Fit & Health

  1. A sphygmomanometer is the gauge used to measure blood pressure. The sphygmomanometer reads both systolic and diastolic pressure. A doctor takes these measurements by putting on the cuff and pumping it up, which cuts off the blood flow. The systolic reading refers to the point when blood starts flowing again after the doctor has released the pressure. The doctor continues to ease the cuff's pressure until there's no sound to be heard from the stethoscope. The diastolic reading taken at this point is an indication of precisely when the heart relaxes. If the systolic and diastolic readings are too high, this means that the heart is being forced to pump too hard, which is caused by problems in the blood vessels. Hormones such as adrenaline make blood vessels constrict, which causes your blood pressure to rise; stress tends to cause these hormones to be released. Blood pressure can also rise as a result of blood vessels losing their elasticity and deposits accumulating in them. Unchecked high blood pressure can lead to heart or kidney failure.

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