Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure your blood exerts as it passes through your blood vessels. When that pressure exceeds a “normal” level, the blood vessels, organs, and other tissue can sustain damage. Blood pressure is measured using a blood pressure cuff, which returns two values. One is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart is beating (systolic pressure) and the others reflects the pressure when your heart is at rest between beats (diastolic pressure). Normal pressure is around 120/80 mm Hg. Blood pressure higher than this can cause health problems such as cardiovascular disease or damage to the organs and the blood vessels.
Regular health screenings are an important part of monitoring and regulating blood pressure levels and hypertension. If the patient has a family history of hypertension it is highly recommended that they have frequent regular screenings. All adults from the age of 18 should have a blood pressure reading every two years. Those over 40 should request the doctor to perform a blood pressure reading every year. In some cases, electrocardiograms (EKG) are used to measure heart function.
An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that checks for problems within your heart. A natural electrical system within the heart causes the heart muscle to contract, pumping blood through the heart to the lungs and the rest of the body. An EKG’s job is to show the heart's electrical activity. It reads out as line tracings on paper. The spikes and dips in the tracings are called waves.
An EKG can be part of a regular physical exam. During an EKG test, you will lie on a bed or table. Electrodes will be attached to the skin on each arm and leg and on your chest. These electrodes are hooked to a machine that measures your heart's electrical activity and traces this activity onto a paper. You will need to lie very still and breathe normally during the test. Sometimes you may be asked to hold your breath. The test is painless and non-invasive and should take around 5 to 10 minutes to complete.
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