# 2.2. Blood Pressure and Pulse Measurement

##### When measured with a pressure gauge, two values shall be taken into account:

Systolic pressure, i.e. the maximum force with which the heart pumps blood during contraction

Diastolic pressure, i.e. the minimum pressure that appears in the arteries during the diastole.

##### Normal pressure in the elderly

The normal and optimal pressure value is 120/80, but a certain margin of deviation is tolerated in people of different ages.

Normal blood pressure in the elderly:

As you can see, normal blood pressure in older people is, to some extent, different from the generally accepted standards.

##### Pulse

The pulse (also known as the heart rate) is the number of heart beats per minute. Its measurement is most often performed on the radial or external carotid artery, as the heart rate is best felt there. A pulse can be measured both through specialized apparatus and by placing the index and middle finger on the carotid or radial artery and counting the number of heartbeats per one minute.

Modern electric pressure gauges also make it possible for you to measure your heart rate on your own.

##### The pulse is evaluated on the basis of:

Rhythm – making sure that subsequent heart rate waves occur at equal intervals

Force – the rate of filling and emptying of the artery with blood

Tension – felt as a palpable impact during the test

Normal pressure and pulse vary with age, which is why different values are considered the norm in the elderly, and different ones in middle-aged people, children or teenagers.

##### Normal pulse rate in an elderly person

The normal pulse rate in an adult is about 70 beats per minute. In the elderly, the optimal pulse values are slightly different from those adopted for younger age groups. It is assumed that the normal pulse rate in an elderly person should be about 60 beats per minute. If pulse measurement indicates lower values, it is called bradycardia. However, when the heart rate exceeds the norm, it is called tachycardia.

It is recommended to perform regular monitoring of the above mentioned parameters. Should any deviations from the norm occur, it is necessary to consult a general practitioner or a cardiologist. An early detection of possible pressure or heart rate disorders allows you to quickly begin the necessary treatment and prevent much more serious cardiovascular diseases.

Monitoring of the heart rate and blood pressure are also very important in people with cardiovascular conditions. A normal pulse or pressure in the elderly may constitute an indicator of the effectiveness of a drug treatment. Very often in people struggling with cardiac diseases, the doctor recommends keeping a diary with the records of pressure and heart rate measurements. On the basis of long-term observations, a cardiologist is able to evaluate the results obtained in an environment comfortable for the patient. This makes it possible to avoid the so-called white coat effect, which involves artificially inflated measurement of the heart rate and pressure, resulting from the stress associated with the test. Distortion of the results may also occur when the test is performed after being in a rush or climbing the stairs to the doctor’s office.

##### Breathing rate

Breathing, along with blood circulation and the activity of the central nervous system, constitutes the body function that life directly depends on. The breathing process is responsible for supplying oxygen to the cells of the body and removing carbon dioxide.

##### The whole breathing process consists of:

External respiration – dependent on lung ventilation, diffusion of gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide between the alveoli and the blood of pulmonary capillary) and lung perfusion

Internal (tissue) breathing – taking place with the participation of respiratory enzymes

Breathing is an activity which consists of two phases: inhaling and exhaling. The measurement of the breathing rate should be carried out at rest, by observing chest movements and calculating the number of these movements per 1 minute.

Normal breathing rate in healthy people is 12-18 breaths per 1 minute.

##### Conditions accelerating the rate of breathing include:

Emotions

Physical exertion

Fever

Lung infections

Impaired tissue perfusion (circulatory failure)

Pain (injuries, surgery)

##### Conditions slowing down the rate of breathing include:

Diseases of the central nervous system

Endogenous poisoning (e.g. urea, diabetic coma)

Exogenous poisoning (substances that have a depressing effect on the central nervous system e.g. ethyl alcohol, benzodiazepines, morphine)

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