What does the abbreviation “RR” mean when measuring blood pressure?

The principle of bloodless blood pressure measurement goes back to the Italian doctor Scipione Riva-Rocci (1863-1943), which is why the abbreviation RR according to Riva-Rocci is common for blood pressure measured on the arm.

The predecessor of today’s blood pressure monitors

The apparatus Riva-Rocci built consisted of a bicycle inner tube, which he used as an upper arm cuff, a rubber balloon to inflate the cuff, and a mercury barometer, which he used to measure the pressure in the brachial artery.

By palpating the wrist artery, Riva-Rocci was able to verify disappearance with increasing (sytolic) pressure. This was a great advance in blood pressure measurement, because up until the 19th century, blood pressure could only be determined using a “bloody” method: measuring probes were inserted into the large body arteries for the measurement.

How is it measured today?

Even today, as in the days of Riva-Rocci, pressure is exerted on the upper arm by an inflated pressure cuff, which congests the arteries and severely restricts the local blood flow.

By releasing the pressure, the typical “Korotkow noises” can be heard with the stethoscope. This is caused by the fact that the blood is swirled, and therefore the sounds of movement become audible. After reaching the diastolic value, no more pulsating sounds can be heard.

The blood pressure (RR) in the brachial arteries normally reaches a value of 120 mmHg in systole, in diastole it falls by about a third of the value to an average of 80 mmHg.

Natural blood pressure fluctuations

Blood pressure is, by and large, a stable affair. Short-term and temporary changes can be triggered by physical work, a change in position, pain, psychological influences or  stress  .

Blood pressure is also subject to daily fluctuations: the highest values ​​occur in the morning, late afternoon and early evening. During midday (especially after lunch), blood pressure drops significantly, most notably during the night.


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