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CHAPTER 31 / Assessing Clients with Hematologic, Peripheral Vascular, and Lymphatic Disorders 925

Guidelines for Blood Pressure Measurement


REVIEW OF KOROTKOFFS SOUNDS Inadequate inflation may result in underestimation of the sys-
The first sound heard is the systolic pressure; at least two consec- tolic pressure or overestimation of the diastolic pressure if an
utive sounds should be clear. If the sound disappears and then is auscultatory gap is present.
heard again 10 to 15 mm later, an auscultatory gap is present; this Rapid deflation and repeated or slow inflations (causing ve-
may be a normal variant, or it may be associated with hyperten- nous congestion) can lead to underestimation of the systolic
sion. The first diastolic sound is heard as a muffling of the BP and overestimation of the diastolic BP.
Korotkoffs sound and is considered the best approximation of the
true diastolic pressure. The second diastolic sound is the level at
FACTORS ALTERING BLOOD PRESSURE
which sounds are no longer heard. A change from the horizontal to upright position causes a
The American Heart Association recommends documenting slight decrease (5 to 10 mm) in systolic BP; the diastolic BP re-
all three readings when measuring blood pressure, for example, mains unchanged or rises slightly.
120/72/64. If only two readings are documented, the systolic and BP taken in the arm is lower when the client is standing.
the second diastolic pressure are taken, for example, 120/64. If the BP is taken with the client in the lateral recumbent posi-
tion, a lower BP reading may be obtained in both arms; this is
TECHNIQUE REMINDERS especially apparent in the right arm with the client in the left
Choose a cuff of an appropriate size: The cuff should snugly lateral position.
cover two-thirds of the upper arm, and the bladder should com- Factors that increase BP include exercise, caffeine, cold envi-
pletely encircle the arm. The bladder should be centered over ronment, eating a large meal, painful stimuli, and emotions.
the brachial artery, with the lower edge 2 to 3 cm above the an- Factors that lower BP include sleep (by 20 mmHg) and very
tecubital space. fast, slow, or irregular heart rates.
The clients arm should be slightly flexed and supported (on a BP tends to be higher in taller or heavier clients.
table or by the examiner) at heart level.
To determine how high to inflate the cuff, palpate the brachial
ALTERNATIVE METHODS OF BLOOD
pulse, and inflate the cuff to the point on the manometer at PRESSURE MEASUREMENT
which the pulse is no longer felt; then, add 30 mmHg to this The palpatory method may be necessary if severe hypotension
reading, and use the sum as the target for inflation. Wait 15 sec- is present and the BP is inaudible. Palpate the brachial pulse, and
onds before reinflating the cuff to auscultate the BP. inflate the cuff 30 mm above the point where the pulse disap-
To recheck a BP, wait at least 30 seconds before attempting pears; deflate the cuff, and note the point on the manometer
another inflation. where the pulse becomes palpable again. Record this as the pal-
Always inflate the cuff completely, then deflate it. Once defla- patory systolic BP.
tion begins, allow it to continue; do not try to reinflate the cuff Leg BP measurement may be needed when there is injury of the
if the first systolic sound is not heard or if the cuff inadver- arms or to rule out coarctation of the aorta or aortic insuffi-
tently deflates. ciency when arm diastolic BP is over 90 mmHg. Place the client
The bell of the stethoscope more effectively transmits the in the prone or supine position with the leg slightly flexed. Place
low-pitched sounds of BP. a large leg cuff on the thigh with the bladder centered over the
popliteal artery. Place the bell of the stethoscope over the
SOURCES OF ERROR popliteal space. Normal leg systolic BP is higher than arm BP; di-
Falsely high readings can occur if the cuff is too small, too loose, astolic BP should be equal to or lower than arm BP. Abnormally
or if the client supports his or her own arm. low leg BP occurs with aortic insufficiency and coarctation of
Falsely low readings can occur if a standard cuff is used on a the aorta.
client with thin arms.

A widened pulse pressure with an elevated systolic BP Artery and Vein Assessment with Abnormal
occurs with exercise, arteriosclerosis, severe anemia, thy- Findings ()
rotoxicosis, and increased intracranial pressure. Palpate the temporal arteries.
A narrowed pulse pressure with a decreased systolic BP Redness, swelling, nodularity, and variations in pulse
occurs with shock, cardiac failure, and pulmonary embolus. amplitude may occur with temporal arteritis.
Inspect and palpate the carotid arteries. Note symmetry, the
Skin Assessment with Abnormal Findings () pulse rate, rhythm, volume, and amplitude. Note any varia-
Inspect the color of the skin. tion with respiration. Describe all pulses as increased, nor-
Pallor reflects constriction of peripheral blood flow (e.g., mal, diminished, or absent. Scales ranging from 0 to 4 are
due to syncope or shock) or decreased circulating oxyhe- sometimes used as follows:
moglobin (e.g., due to anemia). 0  Absent
Central cyanosis of the lips, earlobes, oral mucosa, and 1  Diminished
tongue suggests chronic cardiopulmonary disease. (See 2  Normal
Box 312 for abnormal findings associated with peripheral 3  Increased
vascular and lymphatic assessment.) 4  Bounding