Effect of respiration on Korotkoff sounds and oscillometric cuff pressure pulses during blood pressure measurement

Dingchang Zheng, Luigi Yuri Di Marco, Alan Murray

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Blood pressure (BP) measurement accuracy depends on consistent changes in Korotkoff sounds (KorS) for manual measurement and oscillometric pulses for automated measurement, yet little is known about the direct effect of respiration on these physiological signals. The aim of this research was to quantitatively assess the modulation effect of respiration on Korotkoff sounds and oscillometric pulses. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures were measured manually from 30 healthy subjects (age 41 ± 12 years). Three static cuff pressure conditions were studied for two respiratory rates. Cuff pressure [with oscillometric pulses (OscP)], ECG, chest motion respiration [respiration signal (Resp), from magnetometer] and Korotkoff sounds (KorS, from digital stethoscope) were recorded twice for 20 s. The physiological data were evenly resampled. Respiratory frequency was calculated from Resp (fR), OscP (fO) and KorS (fK) from peak spectral frequency. There was no statistically significant difference between fR and fO or fK. Respiratory modulation was observed in all subjects. OscP amplitude modulation changed significantly between the two respiratory rates (p < 0.05) and between the three cuff pressures (p < 0.0001), and decreased significantly with decreasing cuff pressure (p < 0.05). The phase shift between Resp and modulation of OscP was statistically significant with respiratory rates (p < 0.05), but not with cuff pressures. It is accepted that BP in individuals is variable and that this relates to respiration; we now show that this respiration modulates oscillometric pulse and Korotkoff sound amplitudes from which BP is measured.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467–473
Number of pages7
JournalMedical and Biological Engineering and Computing
Issue number5
Early online date26 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.


  • Blood pressure measurement
  • Oscillometric pulses
  • Korotkoff sounds
  • Respiratory modulation


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