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Physiological Measurement: Blood Pressure

Blood pressure refers to the degree of hydraulic force exerted on the arterial walls by oxygenated blood as it circulates throughout the body. Along with heart rate, blood pressure falls into the general class of hemodynamic variables, which measure the moment-by-moment changes in vascular activity produced by disease processes and psychological factors (see Figure 1).

Medical doctors and other health care providers routinely take blood pressure readings during physical examinations because these readings often provide valuable information about the general level of the patients’ health. Despite the fact that abnormal blood pressure levels often dramatically increase the risk of dire health consequences, most humans are scarcely aware of changes in their own blood pressure from one moment to the next. Among communication researchers and other social ...

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