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Resource type: Article

Blood pressure monitoring

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We measure patients' blood pressure in Intensive Care using either a blood pressure cuff (like the one in a GP's practice) or using a device inserted directly into an artery (arterial line), usually the wrist or groin.

An arterial line lets us monitor the patient's blood pressure accurately and continuously-helping us to identify problems quickly. We can also take blood samples (arterial blood gas samples) which tell us how much oxygen is in the patient's blood. This helps us make sure that the patient is getting the right support from the ventilator or breathing machine.

As with any line or drip, there is a risk of infection. As soon as the line is no longer needed, it will be removed.Arterial lines are usually stitched in and may leave a small scar, which usually fades with time.