Measuring arterial blood pressure in humans: Auscultatory and automatic measurement techniques for human biological field studies

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Gary D. James, Linda M. Gerber
1. Department of Anthropology and Decker School of Nursing, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York 13902; 2. Department of Healthcare Policy and Research, Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, and Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10065

American Journal of Human Biology (Wiley Online Library) 2017
30 : 1
e23063
10.1002/ajhb.23063
English
James GD, Gerber LM. Measuring arterial blood pressure in humans: Auscultatory and automatic measurement techniques for human biological field studies. Am J Hum Biol. 2018 Jan;30(1). doi: 10.1002/ajhb.23063. Epub 2017 Sep 22. PMID: 28940503.. Share Research.
Abstract
Human biologists have been examining arterial blood pressure since they began studying the effects of the environment and culture on the health of diverse populations. The Korotkoff auscultatory technique with a trained observer and aneroid sphygmomanometer is the method of choice for blood pressure measurement in many bioanthropological field contexts. Korotkoff sounds (the first and fifth phases) are the preferred determinants of systolic and diastolic pressure, even in infants, children, pregnant women, and the elderly. Training of observers, positioning of individuals, and selection of cuff size are all essential for obtaining standardized measurements. Automatic electronic devices are increasingly being used for blood pressure measurement in human biological studies. The automatic monitors often use the oscillometric method for measuring pressure, but must be validated before use. The emergence of automatic ambulatory blood pressure monitors has opened another avenue of research on blood pressure in human biology, where allostasis and circadian responses to environmental change and real life behavioral challenges can be defined and evaluated, largely because there is now the ability to make multiple measurements over time and in varying contexts. Stand-alone automatic monitors can also be substituted for manual auscultated readings in field contexts, although in studies where participants measure their own pressure, education about how the devices work and protocol specifics are necessary. Finally, computer-driven plethysmographic devices that measure pressure in the finger are available to evaluate short-term reactivity to specific challenges.
blood pressure

Human biologists have been examining arterial blood pressure since they began studying the effects of the environment and culture on the health of diverse populations. The Korotkoff auscultatory technique with a trained observer and aneroid sphygmomanometer is the method of choice for blood pressure measurement in many bioanthropological field contexts. Korotkoff sounds (the first and fifth phases) are the preferred determinants of systolic and diastolic pressure, even in infants, children, pregnant women, and the elderly. Training of observers, positioning of individuals, and selection of cuff size are all essential for obtaining standardized measurements. Automatic electronic devices are increasingly being used for blood pressure measurement in human biological studies. The automatic monitors often use the oscillometric method for measuring pressure, but must be validated before use. The emergence of automatic ambulatory blood pressure monitors has opened another avenue of research on blood pressure in human biology, where allostasis and circadian responses to environmental change and real life behavioral challenges can be defined and evaluated, largely because there is now the ability to make multiple measurements over time and in varying contexts. Stand-alone automatic monitors can also be substituted for manual auscultated readings in field contexts, although in studies where participants measure their own pressure, education about how the devices work and protocol specifics are necessary. Finally, computer-driven plethysmographic devices that measure pressure in the finger are available to evaluate short-term reactivity to specific challenges.

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