When Measuring Blood Pressure, the Medical Assistant Should
- The medical assistant’s role in measuring blood pressure
- The importance of accurate blood pressure readings
- The different methods of measuring blood pressure
- The factors that can affect blood pressure readings
- The signs and symptoms of high blood pressure
- The treatment options for high blood pressure
- The lifestyle changes that can help lower blood pressure
- The dangers of untreated high blood pressure
- The importance of regular blood pressure check-ups
- Questions to ask your doctor about high blood pressure
When measuring blood pressure, the medical assistant should use a mercury or aneroid sphygmomanometer.
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The medical assistant’s role in measuring blood pressure
While blood pressure can be measured using a variety of devices, the medical assistant’s role is to ensure that the patient’s blood pressure is within a normal range. The medical assistant should take the patient’s blood pressure using a mercury sphygmomanometer, and then record the readings in the patient’s medical chart.
The importance of accurate blood pressure readings
Blood pressure is one of the vital signs, along with respiratory rate, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and body temperature. It is a measure of the force that blood exerts on vessel walls as it circulates through the body. To obtain an accurate reading, the medical assistant should follow these steps:
1. Have the patient sit quietly for at least five minutes prior to taking the reading.
2. Wrap the blood pressure cuff snugly around the arm at approximately the same level as the heart.
3. Inflate the cuff until it is snug and then inflate further until there is a slight throbbing sensation in the artery beneath the cuff. This is known as palpation of the artery.
4. Slowly release the air from the cuff while listening for Korotkoff sounds through a stethoscope placed over the brachial artery (located on the inside of the elbow). The first sound heard corresponds to systolic pressure (the upper number in a blood pressure reading) and corresponds to when blood flow first resumes after being restricted by cuff inflation. The second sound corresponds to diastolic pressure (the lower number in a blood pressure reading) and occurs when blood flow becomes unrestricted between heartbeats.
5. Record both numbers so that they can be properly entered into patients’ charts
The different methods of measuring blood pressure
The medical assistant should understand the different methods of measuring blood pressure so that the readings are as accurate as possible. The three methods most commonly used are a mercury sphygmomanometer, aneroid sphygmomanometer, and digital sphygmomanometer.
The mercury sphygmomanometer is considered the gold standard for measuring blood pressure. It consists of a mercury-filled rubber bulb that is attached to a graduated glass tube. The medical assistant will pump the mercury up to the level of the patient’s systolic pressure and then release it. The mercury will then flow back down the tube, and the medical assistant can read the patient’s diastolic pressure where the mercury column intersects with the scale on the tube.
The aneroid sphygmomanometer is similar to the mercury sphygmomanometer, but it uses a small, delicate Dial gauge instead of mercury. Because it does not have liquid inside, it is not as accurate as the mercury sphygmomanometer, but it is less expensive and easier to transport.
The digital sphygmomanometer is the most modern method of measuring blood pressure. It consists of a cuff that inflates and deflates automatically and a digital display that shows the systolic and diastolic readings. Digital sphygmomanometers are considered to be just as accurate as mercury sphygmomanometers.
The factors that can affect blood pressure readings
There are a number of factors that can affect blood pressure readings. The medical assistant should be aware of these factors so that they can be taken into account when measuring blood pressure.
Some of the factors that can affect blood pressure readings include:
-The size of the cuff used to measure blood pressure. A too-small cuff can give a falsely high reading, while a too-large cuff can give a falsely low reading.
-The position of the patient’s arm. Blood pressure readings will be higher if the arm is not at heart level.
-The level of physical activity the patient is engaging in at the time of measurement. Blood pressure readings will be higher if the patient is physically active at the time of measurement.
-The emotional state of the patient. Blood pressure readings will be higher if the patient is anxious or stressed at the time of measurement.
The signs and symptoms of high blood pressure
There are a number of signs and symptoms associated with high blood pressure (hypertension). These can include:
-A persistent headache
-Dizziness or lightheadedness
-Shortness of breath
– Chest pain or tightness
– Irregular heartbeat
– Swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, legs or abdomen
The treatment options for high blood pressure
The treatment options for high blood pressure (hypertension) are:
-Diet and lifestyle changes
The lifestyle changes that can help lower blood pressure
Lifestyle changes can go a long way toward restoring normal blood pressure. The medical assistant should encourage the patient to:
-Lose weight if obese
-Limit their intake of salt
-Increase their exercise routine
The dangers of untreated high blood pressure
High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because it typically has no symptoms. That’s why it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly by a medical professional. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to a number of serious health complications, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
The importance of regular blood pressure check-ups
The importance of regular blood pressure check-ups cannot be overstated. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the two leading causes of death in the United States A simple blood pressure test can help you and your doctor determine if you are at risk for these conditions.
Questions to ask your doctor about high blood pressure
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, there are a number of questions you may want to ask your doctor during your next visit. This list is not all-inclusive, but it can help get you started:
-What is my blood pressure goal?
-How often should I have my blood pressure checked?
-What are the signs and symptoms of low blood pressure?
-What are the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure?
-What lifestyle changes can I make to help lower my blood pressure?
-Are there any medications I can take to lower my blood pressure?
-What are the possible side effects of the medications you are prescribing for me?
-What risks are associated with high blood pressure?
-How often should I have my blood pressure checked?