Blood Pressure Checks

Blood pressure checks are available by our firefighters free of charge. Please keep in mind firefighters may not always be at the station due to emergency calls or training events.

If you are experiencing chest pains or any other serious symptoms, please call 911 instead of coming to the fire station. Firefighters may not be at the station to help you.

How the Test is Performed

Blood pressure is usually measured while you are seated with your arm resting on a table. Your arm should be slightly bent so that it is at the same level as your heart. The upper arm should be bare, with your sleeve comfortably rolled up.

Blood pressure readings are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and usually given as two numbers, for example, 110 over 70 (written as 110/70). The top number is the systolic blood pressure reading, and represents the maximum pressure exerted when the heart contracts. The bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure reading, and represents the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest.

Obtaining Blood Pressure Measurement

To obtain your blood pressure measurement, we will wrap the blood pressure cuff snugly around your upper arm, positioning it so the lower edge of the cuff is 1 inch above the bend of the elbow.

Next we will locate the large artery on the inside of the elbow by feeling for the pulse and will place the head of the stethoscope over this artery, below the cuff. It should not rub the cuff or any clothing because these noises may block out the pulse sounds. Correct positioning of the stethoscope is important to get an accurate recording.

Inflating the Cuff

We will close the valve on the rubber inflating bulb and then will squeeze it rapidly to inflate the cuff until the dial or column of mercury reads 30 mmHg higher than the usual systolic pressure. If the usual systolic pressure is unknown, the cuff is inflated to 210 mmHg.

Next, the valve is opened slightly, allowing the pressure to fall gradually (2 to 3 mmHg per second). As the pressure falls, the level on the dial or mercury tube at which the pulsing is first heard is recorded. This is the systolic pressure.

As the air continues to be let out, the sounds will disappear. The point at which the sound disappears is recorded. This is the diastolic pressure (the lowest amount of pressure in the arteries as the heart rests).