Investigating Factors that Affect Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Investigating Factors that Affect Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

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Investigating Factors that Affect Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Blood pumped through blood vessels is always under pressure. This
pressure is highest in the arteries closest to the heart and gradually
decreases as the blood travels around the body. Blood keeps moving
around the body because there are differences in pressure in the blood
vessels. Blood flows from higher-pressure areas to lower-pressure
areas until it eventually returns to the heart. Blood pressure is
controlled by three things: heart rate, stroke volume and peripheral
resistance. Generally, when heart rate increases, blood pressure
rises, and vice versa. A number of things affect heart rate, such as
body's temperature, nervous system, hormones, medications, and
diseases, etc. The amount of blood pumped out of a ventricle with each
heartbeat is called stroke volume. When you're resting, stroke volume
is about the same as the amount of blood that veins carry back to the
heart. But under stressful conditions, the nervous system can increase
stroke volume by making the heart pump harder. Width of arteries also
affects the blood pressure. Blood traveling in narrower vessels meets
more resistance than blood traveling through a wider vessel. Depending
on what a person is doing, the amount of blood the heart pumps varies
enormously. Yet the blood pressure normally remains pretty stable.
That's mainly because the body adjusts the resistance of the arteries,
either widening or narrowing them as appropriate, to prevent the blood
pressure from swinging wildly. This ability to regulate the width of
the blood vessels is called the peripheral resistance. Most of the
resistance to blood flow in the circulation occurs in the
small-diameter arteries called arterioles. These arterioles are
especially important in the immediate regulation of blood pressure.
Generally, a change in any factor that may cause the blood pressure to
rise is balanced by a change in another factor. This is how the body
keeps blood pressure in a normal range.

The purpose of this lab is to identify the difference between blood
pressure and heart rate, and to analyze the factors that may affect

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them. Time will be an independent variable.

1. Measure the sitting heart rate.


a. Feel with the fingertips of your index and middle finger for
your pulse point until you detect pulsations.

b. Keep yourself as still as possible while you are taking your
heart rate.

c. Count the number of heartbeats you feel in one minute. Record
the results.

d. Repeat the procedure for your partner.

e. Graph and compare results.

3. Measure the sitting blood pressure.

a) Student patient should extend arm on table with palm up.

b) Place blood pressure cuff above the bend in the arm. The cuff
should be snug yet have enough room to insert two fingers.

c) Check to see if valve is open or closed.

d) Place stethoscope ear tips into ear.

e) Position stethoscope on arm to hear pulse.

f) Pump pressure up to 160 mm.

g) Release valve slowly.

h) The first pulse sound you hear as you release the valve is the
systolic pressure.

i) Have the student patient place their finger on the number of the
first sound to mark the spot.

j) Continue to release the valve. Approximately 40 mm down from the
first sound you will hear is called the diastolic pressure.

k) Record the systolic and the diastolic pressure on the chart.

3. After lying for 5min measure the lying heart rate and blood

4. Choose factors that might cause a change in heart rate and blood


* exercise à moderate: walking (5 min)

* exercise à intense: running up and down the stairs/ hallway (3

* diet: caffeine, sugar, salt, aspirin

6. Make a bar graph of results.

7. Present, analyze, and compare results in class.

1. What kind of effects did you see in blood pressure and heart rate?

2. What are different factors that could affect blood pressure and
heart rate?

3. Would there be a difference in sitting and lying blood pressure and
heart rate, and why?

4. Compare the blood pressure and heart rate. Are there any
similarities or differences in the changes?

A typical normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg, or "120 over 80." The
first number represents the pressure when the heart contracts. The
second number represents the pressure when the heart relaxes. Blood
pressure greater than 140/90 mm Hg is considered high. When you begin
to exercise, your heart rate increases, as does the amount of blood
pumped out of the heart with each beat. This would normally increase
the blood pressure. But the blood pressure remains normal because the
blood vessels widen in order to increase the capacity for the extra
blood being pumped while exercising. This helps offset the increase in
blood pressure associated with the increase in heart rate and stroke
volume associated with exercise. On the other hand, if blood pressure
suddenly drops, a series of changes restores normal blood pressure.
These include short-term increases in heart rate, the strength of the
heart's contractions, and peripheral resistance. Over a longer time
period, blood volume also increases due to the actions of hormones on
the kidneys.
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