Hypertension Tests & Diagnosis

Published: February 6, 2012

a a a

Questionnaires

Your doctor will ask you a series of questions about your personal and family medical history, especially if your blood pressure is high. For the most part, a doctor will ask these questions as part of a routine physical exam. You may need to fill out a form with your symptoms, personal medical history, and family medical history, and if the doctor notices any abnormalities, you will be asked to explain your symptoms. The doctor may ask you follow up questions about your diet, activity levels, experiences with stress, and lifestyle.

Physical Exams

Medical professionals recommend that people visit the doctor for a routine physical at least once a year. During this doctor's visit, you will undergo a comprehensive exam that includes tests and examinations that are used to diagnose a variety of conditions.

Your doctor may be unable to diagnose your blood pressure based on one office visit. If your blood pressure is high, the doctor may ask you follow up questions to determine whether you have a family history of high blood pressure or whether you are experiencing additional symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, or nausea. Your blood pressure may be mildly, moderately, or severely high, and the course of action that your doctor takes will depend on the numbers.

You may need to come back to the doctor's office several times over period of weeks for follow up blood pressure tests. The blood pressure measurements need to be repeated in order to show accurate results.

If your blood pressure is very high or if the doctor suspects that hypertension might be a possibility, then additional tests may be necessary to check the condition of your organs including your heart and kidneys. You may need to undergo a urinalysis, ultrasound, or echocardiogram.

Blood Pressure Test

A medical professional will perform a blood pressure test as part of a routine physical exam. You may notice this test every time you visit a doctor. The person measuring your blood pressure will put a cuff on the upper part of your arm. This cuff is operated manually or by a machine. When inflated, this cuff blocks the flow of blood through the artery. The person measuring the blood pressure can listen to the pulse in the elbow, which will appear and disappear. Using this technique, it is possible to gauge systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Blood pressure monitoring kits can automate this process.

In general, automatic machines provide more reliable and accurate results than manual readings. There are several other procedures that can ensure accuracy. An accurate diagnosis of hypertension requires three separate measurements that are spaced one week apart. Consistent high blood pressure means that the patient has hypertension.

Blood pressure should be taken at least one hour after caffeine consumption, one hour after smoking or exercise, and without any adrenergic stimulants in the system. The patient must be sitting upright for at least five minutes before blood pressure is taken. Blood pressure should also be measured at the same time.

The blood pressure test must be repeated multiple times over a period of multiple weeks in order to confirm a diagnosis for hypertension. The doctor might ask you to visit a medical center or hospital to undergo tests with a medical professional, or you may need to monitor your blood pressure using an automatic at-home kit from the drugstore.

Home Blood Pressure Kits

Home blood pressure monitoring kits are available to measure blood pressure throughout the day. Many of these kits are portable, so you can see how different activities and situations such as exercise and work affect your blood pressure. A doctor might ask you to keep a log of your blood pressure. Monitoring blood pressure throughout the day at specific times can give doctors a more accurate representation of how high blood pressure affects you. Your blood pressure patterns may also shed insight into whether you have a more serious underlying condition.

Additional Tests

If you have high blood pressure, a doctor might prescribe additional tests such as an echocardiogram, urinalysis, and ultrasound. These tests can help diagnose additional problems with the heart, kidneys, and eyes. These tests can also assess whether the hypertension has caused any permanent damage.

More in Diseases & Conditions
New on SymptomFind
a a a  
RELATED ARTICLES
NEED ANSWERS?