Blood Pressure (BP) Measurement

Blood pressure (BP) monitoring is one of the principal vital signs.  It assesses the pressure required by the heart to pump.  It is routinely measured on all patients whether in hospital, outpatient clinics or by the patients GP.  Hypotension (low BP) can cause dizziness and falls, especially in the elderly.  Hypertension (high BP) is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease but can also be a cause of headaches and other conditions.  In emergency situations it can also assess how unwell a patient is e.g. hypotension can indicate sepsis or volume depletion, hypertension can indicate pain or intracranial pathology.

It is a basic but necessary skill to learn and one that is frequently examined on.

Subject steps

  1. If the blood pressure is greater than 140/90, you should wait for 1 minute and re-check. Please note, normal reading differ for diabetic patients.

  2. Furthermore, you should explain to your examiner that you would want to check the blood pressure standing to check for a significant drop (>20 mmHg after 2 minutes). This would suggest a postural hypotension.

  3. Finally, you should inform the patient of their reading, and thank them. If, after rechecking, the blood pressure remains elevated advise the patient they will need this repeated in future which ensures appropriate follow-up.