CHRIS PRIEST / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CHRIS PRIEST / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Blood pressure. District nurse takes the blood pressure of an elderly woman patient. The nurse is using a sphygmomanometer. The cuff on the patient's upper arm is inflated until it is tight enough to stop the flow of blood in the main artery. The pressure is then slowly released by deflating the cuff and, using the stethoscope to listen to the pulse, both systolic pressure (pumping heart) and diastolic pressure (relaxed heart) can be determined. Blood pressure is expressed as a difference between these two measurements, in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). Blood pressure is an important measure of bodily health.
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