1. Measuring blood pressure with sphygmomanometer
The most convenient and widely practiced method to measure blood pressure is an instrument named sphygmomanometer. It is an instrument filled with mercury and has an inflated cuff with an attached meter. This cuff is tied around the patient’s arm over the artery. A pump is used to inflate the cuff which in turn blocks the flow of blood in the artery. As soon the cuff is deflated, the blood flow resumes allowing the doctor to take accurate readings. The first sound recorded tells about the systolic pressure i.e. when the heart beats and the last sound tells about the diabolic pressure i.e. when the heart rests between the beats. The acceptable value for systolic blood pressure is upto 139 and for diabolic pressure, it is upto 90. Any reading above these values means the patient is suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension. This test can even be done at home if you are well aware of how to use the instrument. Sphygmomanometer readings are sufficient to determine hypertension aliment in a person, but it fails at predicting the cause of the disease.
2. Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
Electrocardiogram is a simple yet proven method of monitoring the electrical activity of heart. It is an established fact that each heartbeat produces an electrical signal which spreads all over the heart and makes it contract to pump blood. EKG or ECG test monitors the electrical activity of heart, rate and rhythm of heartbeat. It also measures the size as well as the position of the chambers in the heart to determine any damage to the heart, if any. This test provides accurate results and above all is painless. One visit to the doctor’s clinic is enough if the readings are taken properly.
Echocardiogram is a diagnostic test for hypertension as well as other heart related aliments. The phenomenon of ultrasound is used to examine the heart activity. An echocardiogram utilizes M-mode echo waves that provide precise measurement of heart chambers position and size. This test is also capable of displaying cross sectional area of the heart, highlighting valves and other major blood vessels. All such information helps in understanding the pumping action of the heart and checking if any damage exits. It also helps in determining if one is suffering from hypertension or not. All readings are recorded and reviewed by the physician before drawing any conclusion. So, it may take one or more visits to the doctor for diagnosis.
4. Ambulatory monitoring
Ambulatory monitoring is a mobile version of ECG. Technically, it is a device that checks the blood pressure of the wearer every 15-30 minutes using the ECG technology. Such diagnosis is prescribed for those patients who suffer from borderline hypertension. Ambulatory monitoring helps in distinguishing between real aliment and induced hypertension. Induced hypertension means when blood pressure increases due to external factors such as anxiety, any physical activity and other reasons. It also helps in determining if the hypertension is primary or just a result of any other medical disorder. There is no need to visit a doctor. You can just wear the device and move freely. It will automatically take blood pressure readings every 30 minutes.
5. Blood tests and urinalysis
This test is not specifically used to determine hypertension but other number of factors that trigger high blood pressure. Doctors examine blood as well as urine samples to check the potassium, cholesterol and blood sugar levels in the body. It also helps determine any infection, kidney malfunction and kidney damage due to hypertension. More precisely, the patient needs to visit the doctor’s clinic twice, once to give blood and urine samples and again to take the reports. It is always advised to go for regular urine and blood tests as it is even effective in early diagnosis of several other diseases. However, this test is non-invasive and one must consider taking aforesaid diagnosis tests to be sure about the aliment as there are chances that readings are due to some per-existing aliment in the body. Do not consume food, medicines, alcohol or sweets at least 5 hours before you go for the test as it can give misleading results. If you are suffering from fever or any other disease, then this test won’t be of much help.
6. Physical examination
Even today several doctors resort to mere physical examination to diagnose hypertension. Physical examination includes checking the patient’s pulse rate, eyes, neck for any swelling in veins or enlarged thyroid gland. Doctors use a stethoscope to hear the heart beats and check if there is any enlargement or murmurs. Such examination may help the doctor diagnose the hypertension aliment in the patient but fails in determining the extent of damage to the body and heart. It is recommended that one should opt for other diagnosis tests to get the real picture.
7. Medical history examination
Medical history examination is a method to identify high blood pressure in youngsters and children. In such diagnosis, the medical history of family is studied especially the incidences of hypertension. In addition, the other habits running down the family tree are also taken into consideration like tobacco use, salt intake, drug use and other such activities. Such examination helps in estimating the chances of high blood pressure in an offspring from a particular family tree. This test is non-invasive and requires through study and skills to draw accurate conclusions. However, other diagnoses are required to ensure whether a person suffers from hypertension or not.
8. Cardiac catheterization
This medical procedure is very effective in diagnosis and treatment of a number of cardiac diseases including hypertension. A catheter, which is a thin flexible tube is inserted into a large artery through the groin or arm and eventually guided to the coronary arteries of heart. Cardiac catheterization helps in diagnosis of any malfunction of heart or artery blockage. The position and functioning of heart chambers can be studied, checked for any signs of hypertension. It is a painless diagnosis procedure and requires only one visit to the doctor. It provides the complete condition of the heart and helps in curing some aliments as well.
9. A doppler or duplex test
This diagnosis procedure is quite effective in monitoring the functioning of the arteries and heart muscles. This test is an intelligent mix of ultrasound with doppler ultrasonography which allow identifying moving objects within the arteries such as blood and its flow while generating pictures of the same. This procedure provides accurate speed of blood flow and other related aspects. A gel is applied over the area under examination which helps the sound waves get into the tissues easily. The sound waves are generated using a wand called transducer. Pictures and other details are displayed on the monitor. Doctors study the observations and obtain the blood pressure in the body. This procedure is used to diagnose several other aliments as well.
10. Exercise stress test
This test helps in assessing the functioning of one’s cardiovascular system. The patient is asked to ride a stationery bike or walk on a treadmill. Exercise stress test monitors the electrical activity as well as the blood pressure during exercise sessions. Some doctors also prefer carrying out imaging scans of the heart’s blood supply during stress testing. After taking requisite observations, the doctors can draw some solid conclusions. If there are symptoms like chest pain, dizzy spells or palpitations, then one can go for further tests.
11. Studying symptoms
Hypertension is often termed as a silent killer as it has few obvious symptoms associated with high blood pressure. These symptoms include nosebleeds, fatigue, blurred vision, chest pain, sweating and abnormal heartbeat. Such symptoms indicate that severe hypertension has been around for long enough. These symptoms can also occur in some other aliments as well so it might get a little confusing. So, it is best advised to go for any of the above mentioned tests to confirm the aliment.