e. Obesity. People who are very overweight usually have higher blood
pressure than they would if their weight were closer to their ideal weight.
f. Pain. Pain is a type of body defense that lets the brain know that something
is wrong. The brain may respond to pain by increasing the rate and strength of
heartbeats. The increased rate increases the amount of oxygen available to the
muscles for producing energy. It also results in an increased blood pressure.
g. Emotion. Fear, worry, excitement, and similar emotions can result in a
higher blood pressure. The brain may react to these emotions in basically the same
way that it reacts to pain.
h. Gravity. If a person is standing, the blood pressure of the arteries in the
lower part of the body will be greater than the pressure in the upper part of the body.
i. Exercise. A person's blood pressure is greater during and just after
exercising because the heart beats faster in order to supply additional oxygen to the
j. Disease. Almost any disorder that affects the arteries or the renal (kidney)
system will result in a higher blood pressure. Diseases that weaken the heart will
usually result in a lower blood pressure.
k. Drugs. Drugs designed to strengthen the actions of the heart, such as
digitalis, will cause the patient's blood pressure to rise. Drugs that cause the arteries to
become smaller in diameter (called vasoconstrictors) will also cause the patient's blood
pressure to rise. Drugs that cause the patient's arteries to become larger in diameter
(called vasodilators) will decrease blood pressure.
l. Eating. A person's blood pressure is usually elevated (increased) while he is
eating and for a while after he finishes the meal.
m. Bleeding. Serious bleeding (hemorrhaging) reduces the amount of blood in
the body's circulatory system and thus reduces blood pressure.
WHAT EQUIPMENT IS NEEDED TO MEASURE A PATIENT'S BLOOD
You will need a sphygmomanometer (sfig'-mo-mah-NOM-e-ter) and a