Tests for hypertension

The best and easiest way to measure blood pressure is with the help of an instrument called a Sphygmomanometer (Blood Pressure Instrument) and a stethoscope. All other tests are done to see the severity of effects of hypertension on the organs, to rule out causes of secondary hypertension and to plan the course of treatment.

Screening for Hypertension

Primary hypertension though affecting a sizeable population often goes undetected. It is most often detected on routine medical examination or when the complications of hypertension set in. Regular blood pressure check-up is required if

A single reading of high blood pressure doesn’t mean much on it’s own.( At times a transient rise in blood pressure is noted in a few people on visiting a doctor or hospital; this is termed as “white coat” hypertension. These people may not need treatment at present but are at a higher risk of developing frank hypertension in later life). If the reading on the first examination is :

  • Less than 130/85 mm Hg then a repeat check must be done in two years
  • Between 130-139/85-89 mm Hg a repeat check must be done in one year
  • Between 140-159/90-99 mm Hg, three readings on different occasions are taken over a period of two months to confirm the diagnosis
  • Between 160-179/100-109 mm Hg, three readings are done over one month.

Blood Pressure is recorded by trained medical personnel and after making sure that :

  • The patient is resting comfortably
  • Patient’s back is supported in sitting or lying down position
  • If the patient had coffee or tea at least 30 minutes should have elapsed since then.
  • If the patient has smoked at least 5 minutes should have passed thereafter.

Monitoring of Hypertension

A regular record of blood pressure readings in between doctor’s visits is useful :

  • to check the effect of medicines
  • when blood pressure is difficult to control or medications are being changed (frequently)
  • in people who are suspected to have hypertension but the diagnosis is not confirmed as yet.
  • in person with ” white coat’ hypertension

Tests usually done

  • Eye examination
  • Urine analysis
  • Kidney function tests
  • Blood Tests: Are done to check blood sugar levels, potassium levels, lipid profile
  • Electrocardiography (ECG)
  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiography
  • Ultrasound (abdomen)