JOSH SHER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOSH SHER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Blood pressure measurement. Doctor using a sphygmomanometer to take a blood pressure (BP) reading. He is listening to the elderly woman's blood flow using a stethoscope. The black cuff is inflated around her upper arm until it stops the flow of blood in the main artery. The pressure is reduced until pulsing blood flow resumes. This pressure reading is the systolic pressure caused by the pumping heart. The cuff is then deflated until smooth blood flow resumes, giving the diastolic pressure of the relaxed heart between pumps. BP is an important measure of health. Abnormally high BP (hypertension) can lead to heart and kidney failure if not treated.
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