Site updated at Thursday, 03 January 2019

Health - Severe Hypertension

Methods of Blood Pressure Measurement

Saturday, Dec 22 2007


Direct Intra-arterial Recording
The first method established for measuring blood pressure, intra-arterial recording, was discovered in 1733 when Hales inserted a thin glass tube into a horse’s artery during a surgical procedure. The level of the blood rose and fell within the glass tube because of changes in arterial pressure associated with heart action. Experimentation with this method permitted Hales to directly observe changes in blood pressure by measuring the level of the blood in the glass tube.

With continued experimentation, blood pressure gauges of this type became standardized so measures of blood pressure could be compared across time and situations as well as across species.

Despite its impracticality due to problems associated with blood loss and potential infection, direct intra-arterial measures of blood pressure are still considered the ‘gold standard’ of measurement (Littler and Komsuoglu, 1989). Not only are these measures made directly from catheters positioned in the circulatory system, but they also permit continuous measures of blood pressure on a beat-by-beat basis. Thus, momentary fluctuations in blood pressure in response to various environmental stimuli can easily be detected. But despite the accuracy of intra-arterial methods, their impracticality for clinic use led to the reliance on pulse palpation (sensing variations in the pulse by touch) as a gross estimate of arterial pressure obtained during clinic visits in the 1800s.

Larkin, K. T., and Zayfert, C.
Published with assistance from the foundation established in memory of Amasa Stone Mather of the Class of 1907, Yale College.

  • Abel, J. A., and Larkin, K. T. (1991). Assessment of cardiovascular reactivity across laboratory and natural settings. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 35, 365 - 373.
  • Achmon, J., Granek, M., Golomb, M., and Hart, J. (1989). Behavioral treatment of essential hypertension: A comparison between cognitive therapy and biofeedback of heart rate. Psychosomatic Medicine, 51, 152 - 164.
  • Agras, W. S., Horne, M., and Taylor, C. B. (1982). Expectation and the blood-pressure-lowering effects of relaxation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 44, 389 - 395.
  • Agras, W. S., Taylor, C. B., Kraemer, H. C., Southam, M. A., and Schneider, J. A. (1987). Relaxation training for essential hypertension at the worksite: II. The poorly controlled hypertensive. Psychosomatic Medicine, 49, 264 - 273.
  • Aivazyan, T. A., Zaitsev, V. P., Khramelashvili, V. V., Golenov, E. V., and Kichkin, V. I. (1988). Psychophysiological interrelations and reactivity characteristics in hypertensives. Health Psychology, 7, 137 - 144.
  • al'Absi, M., and Wittmers, L. E. (2003). Enhanced adrenocortical responses to stress in hypertension-prone men and women. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 25, 52 - 33.
  • Albright, C. L., Winkleby, M. A., Ragland, D. R., Fisher, J., and Syme, S. L. (1992). Job strain and prevalence of hypertension in a biracial population of urban bus drivers. American Journal of Public Health, 82, 984 - 989.
  • Davidyan, A. (1989). Emotional factors in essential hypertension. Psychosomatic Medicine, 55, 505 - 517.
  • Alfredsson, L., Davidyan, A., Fransson, E., de Faire, U., Hallqvist, J., Knutsson, A., et al. (2002). Job strain and major risk factors for coronary heart disease among employed males and females in a Swedish study on work, lipids, and fibrinogen. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 28, 238 - 248.
Revision date: March 4, 2010
Last revised: by Dr. Loren Hooper, M.D.

Provided by Armina Hypertension Association

Post a comment [ + Comment here + ]

There are no comments for this entry yet. [ + Comment here + ]

Your details

* Required field

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Comments are moderated by our editors, so there may be a delay between submission and publication of your comment. Offensive or abusive comments will not be published.