Blood Pressure Screening Questions and Answers
At Columbia Clinic Urgent Care, our clinicians provide blood pressure screening services so you can keep track of your health. For more information, call us or book an appointment online. We have convenient locations to serve you in Portland OR, Clackamas OR, and Tigard OR.
Blood is an incredibly intricate bodily fluid that sustains life by transporting vital nutrients throughout the body. It plays a large role in a person’s health and can be very revealing when it comes to certain health conditions. One of the most common conditions related to the cardiovascular system is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. People at higher risk of hypertension should receive regular blood pressure screenings, including those with a family history of high blood pressure and those with certain lifestyle factors. Blood pressure screenings are easy and effective ways to prevent a number of cardiovascular diseases.
What is blood pressure screening?
Blood pressure screening is a basic health test that determines a person’s current blood pressure. This is typically measured by using a blood pressure monitor with an inflatable cuff that goes over the upper arm. Initial screening for high blood pressure is performed by measuring blood pressure in a clinical setting (typically a doctor’s office). Sometimes, additional blood pressure checks are performed to confirm the diagnosis, such as with home blood pressure monitoring (using a personal monitor at home) or ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (repeated home blood pressure measurement over a 12- to 24-hour period). The blood pressure measurement devices that are used in a clinical setting are called sphygmomanometers and can either be manual or automated. Proper protocol is to:
- Use the average of 2 measurements taken while the patient is seated
- Allow for at least 5 minutes between entry into the office and blood pressure measurement
- Use an appropriately sized arm cuff
- Place patient’s arm at chest height.
Multiple measurements over time have a better positive predictive value than a single measurement due to the natural fluctuations of blood pressure throughout the day and between physical activities.
What tests are done to diagnose high blood pressure?
There are several tests used to diagnose high blood pressure, including:
- Ambulatory Monitoring — This 24-hour blood pressure monitoring test is used to confirm cases of high blood pressure and is designed to check blood pressure levels at regular intervals over a 24-hour period. This provides a more accurate picture of blood pressure changes over an average day and night, but these devices are not available in all medical centers, and they may not be reimbursed.
- Lab Tests — A doctor may order a number of lab tests to measure blood pressure, including a urine test (urinalysis) and blood tests, including a cholesterol test.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) — Electrocardiograms are quick and painless tests that measure the electrical activity of the heart.
- Echocardiogram — An echocardiogram may be ordered depending on the patients’ signs, symptoms, and test results. These diagnostic tests are able to detect more signs of heart disease. An echocardiogram uses ultrasound technology (sound waves) to produce images of the heart.
What will the doctor do for high blood pressure?
If a person has elevated blood pressure and another chronic condition, such as diabetes, kidney disease, or cardiovascular disease, in addition to lifestyle changes, a doctor might recommend blood pressure medication. For people that have been diagnosed with elevated blood pressure but do not have any other conditions that increase their risk of heart disease, the benefits of medication are less clear. A doctor will likely prescribe medications to lower blood pressure and recommend healthy lifestyle changes if a person has stage 1 or stage 2 hypertension.
What are the symptoms of stage 2 hypertension?
Symptoms of severe hypertension can include:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- visual changes
- blood in the urine
If you have high blood pressure or have a condition that increases your risk of developing the condition, come to Columbia Clinic Urgent Care for our blood pressure screening. Call one of our locations today to book an appointment, or simply walk right in! We serve patients from Portland OR, PDX, Happy Valley OR, Tigard OR, Milwaukie OR, Cedar Hills OR, Cedar Mill OR, Lake Oswego OR, Oak Grove OR, Vancouver WA, Aloha OR, Minnehaha WA, Gladstone OR, Tualatin OR, West Linn OR, Fairview OR, Oregon City OR.