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J R Soc Med. 2005 June; 98(6): 294–295.
PMCID: PMC1142252

Goodbye mercury

Goodbye mercury? I should hope so, and not only for the reasons cited by Dr Varughese and Professor Lip in their editorial (March 2005 JRSM1). Pressure is defined scientifically as force per unit area. Expression of pressure in this way gives a much better perception of the force being exerted on arterial walls than does the height of a column of mercury.

Meteorologists now express atmospheric pressure in terms of the pascal, where the former millimetre of mercury becomes 1.33 hectopascal. Along with the mercury itself let us abandon the archaic millimetre of mercury and adopt the hectopascal.


1. Varughese GI, Lip GYH. Goodbye to mercury? Blood pressure measurement and its future. J R Soc Med 2005;98: 89-90 [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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