Diagnosis and monitoring of treatment of essential hypertension require the accurate repeated measurement of blood pressure. Although on the surface it may seem that measuring blood pressure is simple, many factors need to be considered when obtaining measures of blood pressure for purposes of diagnosing and monitoring essential hypertension.
For example, arterial pressure differs depending upon the specific site of the arterial bed from which the measure is obtained; the closer the location is to the heart, the higher the blood pressure. Body position greatly affects blood pressure measurement, as does ingestion of a variety of substances, including alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and a whole range of prescription and over-the-counter medications.
To complicate matters further, blood pressure is a dynamic parameter, forever changing as the organism adapts to altering environmental contexts like noise level, temperature, and presence of interpersonal confrontation; therefore, a single blood pressure assessment will never really provide much useful information. In addition, although numerous manual and automated devices have been developed to measure blood pressures accurately, correspondence of blood pressure values among these devices is not always exact. Let’s examine some of the primary methods employed to measure blood pressure.