Heart Measurements

Diagnostic measurements can be taken using a range of devices to test the efficiency of the cardiovascular system

  • Two common tests performed are auscultation and blood pressure measurements


  • Auscultation involves listening to the internal sounds of body organs, by using a stethoscope
  • Auscultation is commonly used to listen to the different heart sounds in order to assess the health of the heart
  • By placing the stethoscope at different points on the chest, the closure of each of the four heart valves can be heard
  • This allows physicians to determine if the heart is functioning normally 

Measuring Heart Sounds via Auscultation


Blood Pressure

Blood pressure measurements include two readings – a systolic pressure and a diastolic pressure

  • The systolic pressure is a higher value that represents the pressure in the vessel when the heart is contracting (i.e. pulse flow)
  • The diastolic pressure is a lower value that represents the pressure in the vessel when the heart is relaxing

Blood pressure is measured in arteries using a sphygmomanometer (veins do not have sufficient pressure to be easily detected)

  • The sphygmomanometer is a blood pressure cuff that cuts off circulation to a region (typically the brachial artery in the arm)
  • The pressure of the cuff is slowly released until a pulse can be audibly detected with a stethoscope (systolic pressure) 
  • The pressure continues to be released from the cuff until a pulse can no longer be audibly detected (diastolic pressure)
  • A normal blood pressure for a healthy adult is approximately 120 / 80 mmHg

Measuring Blood Pressure with a Sphygmomanometer