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Hypertension tests are initiated with a noninvasive measurement of the patient’s blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer. The measurement of the blood pressure is normally supplemented by a physical examination. Part of the physical examination is an observation of the heart by listening through a stethoscope if there are abnormal sounds. The doctor will also use the stethoscope to check for a bruit in the arteries.
The doctor will conduct an interview to learn about the patient’s medical history, risk factors, and family history. The interview is done to find out if a medical condition that is comorbid with hypertension exists. It is also done to verify if the patient is maintaining an inappropriate lifestyle and unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive intake of alcoholic drinks and fatty and salty food, as these are likely causes of hypertension. Finally, the interview is performed to check if hypertension, which is hereditary, runs in the family.
Once a patient is diagnosed to be hypertensive, he or she must undergo more hypertension tests as determined by the doctor. The tests are intended to trace the cause of hypertension and assess any damage it has done to the patient’s internal organs. The hypertension tests typically include urinalysis, complete blood count (CBC), and a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG).
Urinalysis is done to check if there is kidney infection and also diagnose if there is a developing chronic disease like hypertensive nephropathy. The CBC, in part, examines the amount of red blood cells, which when found high, is an indication of polycythemia — a condition common among people with hypertension. The comprehensive metabolic panel is a blood test that provides information on the sugar level in the blood, the condition of the liver, and the kidneys and electrolytes and fluid balance. Chest x-ray is a lung study ordered by a doctor to find out if the heart is enlarged or if there is an evidence of pulmonary hypertension. A patient is submitted to a 12-lead ECG in order to find out if there is thickening or damage to the heart muscle or wall, which is one of the complications of hypertension.
More tests may be ordered by the doctor, particularly for a patient with adverse findings on his or her initial hypertension tests. A patient with indications of a kidney disease may be required to undergo a kidney ultrasound or abdominal CT scan or both. If the patient has high glucose in the blood or is known to be a diabetic, he or she may undergo serum glycohemoglobin and urine microalbumin tests. A 2D echocardiogram may be prescribed for a patient with a defective heart function to assess the heart condition more accurately.
Hypertension tests are necessary to guide the doctor in his or her treatment program for a patient. The test will also guide the doctor in prescribing the correct medicines and their dosage. The selection of medical specialists who will form part of the medical team to completely manage the medical condition of a patient will also be facilitated. A patient must, therefore, cooperate in having the tests completed at the soonest possible time.
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