What is Blood Pressure?
When your heart beats, it pushes oxygen-carrying blood to the various tissues and organs throughout your body. This is essential for survival as it transports oxygen to areas where it’s needed. As your heart pumps blood, it exerts pressure within your veins and arteries. This pressure comes in two forms: systolic and diastolic.
Systolic blood pressure is pressure your blood exerts against artery walls during heartbeats.
Diastolic blood pressure is pressure your blood exerts against artery walls between heartbeats, while your heart is resting.
How is Blood Pressure Measured?
To measure blood pressure, a pressure cuff known as a sphygmomanometer is placed around the upper arm. The cuff is then inflated until blood flow is temporarily stopped in the brachial artery. The air in the cuff is slowly released while the person taking the measurement either monitors an electronic readout or listens with a stethoscope. From there, they determine your systolic pressure, the top number in your blood pressure measurement, followed by your diastolic pressure, the bottom number in your blood pressure measurement.
How Often Should I Get My Blood Pressure Measured?
Measuring blood pressure is a common diagnostic tool used by medical personnel during visits. The American Heart Association recommends getting your blood pressure screened yearly during a regular healthcare visit if you are 20 or older and your blood pressure is normal (less than 120/80 mm Hg). If you do not fall within these guidelines, your medical provider may recommend more frequent measurements to ensure your health and well-being, including use of an in-home device for tracking blood pressure.