Procedure for Determining Blood Pressure with an Automatic Device

Preparation of the patient is the same when using an automatic blood pressure device.  However, the manufacturer’s instructions for using an automatic blood pressure device can be different.  Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before using the device.  Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80mm Hg.

Initial Blood Pressure Systolic mm Hg Initial Blood Pressure Diastolic mm Hg Follow-up Recommended
<120 <80 Recheck at future visits to verify any changes
120–139 80–89 Recheck at future visits to verify any changes
140–159 90–99 Refer to source of care
>160 >100 Emergency care needed
*If the systolic and diastolic categories are different, follow recommendations for the shorter time follow-up

It is important that the patient always be in the same position using the same arm. Differences in body position and arm used can make a difference in the reading of 10mm Hg or more.

Hypertension should never be diagnosed with only one reading. Blood pressure reading should be taken in a variety of different situations. As we know, some patients will experience hypertension from being in our dental office.

In January, 2012 a study was released in Lancet regarding the accuracy of blood pressure readings in both arms. The British researchers indicated a systolic number difference of 10-15mm Hg or more could be an indication of a more serious problem, such as narrowing arteries, decreased blood flow to the brain, and a significantly increased chance of heart attack and stroke. Should the dental professional receive such readings, they should take the blood pressure readings again after approximately 5-10 minutes. If the readings received are still inconsistent between the patient’s arms, the patient should be referred to their healthcare provider.