The Reverend Stephen Hales, an Anglican minister in England, made the first measurements of blood pressure in 1733. He did this by cannulating major arteries such as the carotid in the horse. This approach grew out of the work he did in measuring sap pressure in trees.
By the mid 19th century, the great Carl Ludwig in Germany had invented the kymograph, a rotating drum upon which a stylus wrote. He used it to make recordings of blood pressure.
Half a century later, Riva-Rocci invented the sphygmomanometer, a technique still in use today.
Previous to Riva-Rocci and the auscultatory method, two other less accurate methods were available for non-invasively measuring blood pressure, the palpatory and the oscillatory methods. Palpation uses the appearance of a weak pulse after release of occlusion to give the systolic pressure.
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