High Blood Pressure – Tests and Diagnosis

A blood pressure test is the best way to diagnose hypertension. This test is performed a number of times to verify that the test results are correct. High results will require you to return for future visits to monitor your blood pressure over certain periods of time.

If you keep on getting blood pressure results of 140/90 mmHg and above per test, your physician can then give you a diagnosis of high blood pressure. If you keep on registering BP rates of 130/80 mmHg and above and if you suffer from chronic kidney disease or diabetes, you can be diagnosed with high blood pressure as well.

Testing for How your Blood Pressure

Test for your blood pressure is performed in the clinic or the doctor’s office.

In preparing for the test the patient must:

  • Sit for about 5 minutes prior to the test. When you move it causes a temporary rise in your blood pressure
  • Urinate or pass stool before the test. Your blood pressure may not register your right BP if your bladder is full
  • Abstain from smoking tobacco or drinking coffee half an hour before the test. Smoking or dinking alcohol will temporarily elevate your blood pressure

Your blood pressure is measured by your doctor or nurse using a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope and a BP gauge. The nurse or doctor will measure your BP with you lying down and with the BP cuff on your arm. If you want to know what your reading is, you need to ask the nurse or doctor since most of the time, they will not tell it to you.

As you age and/or if your body size grows your BP rises as well. Babies often have low BP rate while older teenagers will exhibit similar BP rates as adults.

A child will be diagnosed with high blood pressure (HBP) is the child’s BP rate is higher than the average rate for kids his age, height and gender.

You may also need to go through other types of blood tests like tests to determine creatinine, blood urea and electrolyte levels. Other BP tests can include

  • Urinalysis to test for presence of hormones and electrolytes
  • Tests to measure hormones from thyroid or adrenal gland
  • Lipid profile to test for presence of different kinds of cholesterol
  • Eye test – This test uses an ophthalmoscope to scan for ocular impairment
  • Ultrasound and CT scan – These tests are done on the kidneys and abdomen respectively to if these organs have been damaged by high blood pressure (HBP) or if there is enlargement any of the adrenal glands and the kidneys

The following tests are done to assess any damage to the blood vessels or the heart:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) – An ECG records the heart’s electrical activity to quantitavely assess any damages to the muscles of the heart caused by HBP. These damages can involve HBP complications, hypertrophy or thickening of the cardiac muscle/wall or heart attack.
  • Echocardiogram – This is a type of ultrasound exam that focuses on the function of the heart.  Sound waves from the ECG machine can act like a camera and take a picture of the heart as it beats and the picture images are sent to a video monitor. The echo can see if your heart has issues like heart valve malfunction, blood clots, problems in the heart wall’s movement and cardiomegaly or heart enlargement.  An electrocardiogram can also measure heart muscle strength (or ejection fraction).
  • X-rays – These can give a doctor a good assessment of the size of your heart but it does not give more specifics to your condition the same as an echocardiogram can give, that can look inside the heart.
  • Doppler ultrasound – This test is to determine if there is blood flow going on through the arteries at pulse points in your feet, hands, legs and arms. It can also be an effective way to identify peripheral vascular disease which is a problem for almost every HBP sufferers as well as a good way to see if any narrowings have developed in the blood vessels

Prehypertension

The normal blood pressure of a person is usually less than 120/80.  When his BP begins to reach 120 to 139 for the systolic range and 80 to 89 for the diastolic, he has a BP that is considered in the prehypertension stage.

Normal BP range will record a range of 120 mm Hg and less and a diastolic of 80 mm Hg.  High BP is classified in two stages, stage 1 and stage 2:

  • Stage 1 – A range of 140 to 159 is registered for the systolic range and 90 to 99 mm Hg for the diastolic range.
  • Stage 2 – This means you have a systolic range of above 160 and a diastolic above 100 mm Hg

Dr. Cui Han is a Florida licensed acupuncture physician and the founder of AcuHealing Medical Center in Miami, FL.

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