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How To Check Blood Pressure With Cuff And Stethoscope

How To Use An Automated Blood Pressure Machine

Blood Pressure Measurement: How to Check Blood Pressure Manually

The easiest way to take your own blood pressure is to purchase an automated cuff. Automatic blood pressure machines are the easiest to use, and theyre helpful if you have any hearing impairments.

These types of blood pressure cuffs have a digital monitor that will display your blood pressure reading on a screen. You can purchase these online, at most grocery stores, or at a health food store.

The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, upper arm blood pressure monitor for at-home use. To use your digital blood pressure monitor, follow the instructions that come with it. You can also take the monitor to your doctors office, or even your local pharmacy, for a demonstration.

You should also purchase a small notebook to start a blood pressure log. This can be helpful for your doctor. You can a free blood pressure log from the AHA.

Machines can give you a different reading than a manual blood pressure reading. Bring your cuff to your next doctors appointment so you can compare the reading from your cuff to the reading your doctor takes. This can help you calibrate your machine and identify levels you should look for on your own device.

Its also important to purchase a high-quality machine and monitor for errors. Even if you check your blood pressure at home, your doctor will still want to manually check it during appointments.

Blood Pressure Cuff Size

When it comes to blood pressure cuffs, size does matter. The wrong size cuff can cause your readings to be either too high or low. Most home monitors and cuffs have an arm size range on the cuff.

Some home monitors come with one size range cuff and others may give you a choice of cuffs. If your arm size changes, some monitor cuffs can be changed to a different size .

Before you purchase a home monitor, make sure you know what cuff size youre getting. The home monitor I use and recommend comes with a standard cuff size that fits most people. It measures between 8.75 and 16.5.

The best way to measure your upper arm is with a cloth measuring tape. Keep your arm relaxed, supported or hanging straight down. Wrap the measuring tape around the middle of your upper arm and make sure it is even all the way around.

Make a note of your measurement and make sure it falls within the range of the cuff youre buying.

Blood pressure cuff placement is one of 14 sections in my article about blood pressure cuffs. Learn more about BP cuffs, including how to apply them, errors made and sizes, here in the article, Blood Pressure Cuffs.

Keep A Log Of Your Blood Pressure Readings

Keeping a record of your readings is important and allows you to bring them to your doctor on your next visit. Most wrist cuff monitors have a built-in memory or a phone app where they can be stored.

If your monitor doesnt have a memory feature, then keep a written record. Whichever way you track your readings, I suggest you bring the monitor with you on your next doctor visit so you can follow step #11.

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Tips For Checking Your Own Blood Pressure

There are certain factors that can cause blood pressure to temporarily rise. For example, blood pressure normally rises as a result of:

Try to avoid as many of these factors as you can when taking your blood pressure. Also, try to measure your blood pressure at about the same time each day. Your doctor may want you to check your blood pressure several times during the day to see if it fluctuates.

Manual Blood Pressure Monitors

Manual Cuff Blood Pressure Monitor Stethoscope ...

Manual models are like the ones that might be used in your doctor’s office. They usually include an arm cuff, a squeeze bulb to inflate the cuff, a stethoscope or microphone, and a gauge to measure the blood pressure.

To take your blood pressure, you inflate the cuff around your upper arm. This stops the flow of blood in the artery for a short time. You place the stethoscope on the skin over the artery. As you release air from the cuff, you listen for the sound of the blood as it starts to flow through the artery again.

The reading on the gauge when blood flow is first heard is the systolic pressure. The reading when blood flow can no longer be heard is the diastolic pressure.

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Stethoscope Usage And Korotkoff Sounds

The stethoscope is used on bare skin so that a clients clothing does not affect the sounds. The stethoscope does not make sounds louder it simply blocks out extraneous noises so you can better hear the Korotkoff sounds. These sounds are heard through a stethoscope applied over the brachial artery when the blood pressure cuff is deflating. You will not hear anything when you first place the stethoscope over the brachial artery because unobstructed blood flow is silent. The Korotkoff sounds appear after you inflate the cuff and then begin to deflate the cuff. The Korotkoff sounds are the result of the turbulent blood caused by the inflated cuff compressing the artery and oscillations of the arterial wall when the heart beats during cuff deflation.

Here are a few tips:

  • Use a high quality stethoscope with durable, thick tubing. Avoid stethoscopes with long tubing because this can distort sounds.
  • Ensure quiet surroundings so that you can better hear the Korotkoff sounds.
  • Make sure that the slope of the stethoscope earpieces point forward or toward your nose.
  • Use a stethoscope that has both bell and diaphragm capacity. See Figure 5.4 for bell and diaphragm.

Film clip 5.2: Opening and closing the bell and diaphragm

Alternatively, if viewing textbook as a PDF, use this link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/rp_4h-tCmvs?rel=0

Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About A Blood Pressure Measurement

If you were diagnosed with high blood pressure, your provider may recommend one or more of the following lifestyle changes.

  • Exercise regularly. Staying active can help lower your blood pressure and also help manage your weight. Most adults should aim for 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Check with your provider before beginning an exercise program.
  • Keep a healthy weight. If you are overweight, losing as little as 5 pounds can lower your blood pressure.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetable, and whole grains. Limit foods high in saturated fat and total fat.
  • Reduce salt in your diet. Most adults should have less than 1500 mg of salt per day.
  • Limit alcohol use. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one drink a day if you are a woman two drinks a day if youre a man.
  • Dont smoke.

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What Steps Should I Take While Checking My Blood Pressure At Home

Before taking your blood pressure

  • Find a quiet place.
  • Check to be sure you have the correct size cuff. If you are not sure, or if you have questions, talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Roll up the sleeve on your left arm or remove any tight-sleeved clothing, if needed.
  • Rest in a chair next to a table for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Sit up straight with your back against the chair, legs uncrossed and on the ground.
  • Rest your forearm on the table with the palm of your hand facing up.
  • You should not talk, read the newspaper, or watch television during this process.

Taking your blood pressure

If you buy a manual or digital blood pressure monitor , follow the instruction booklet carefully.

Record your blood pressure

If you have been asked to record your blood pressure and bring your readings to the office, please write down the date, time of day, systolic and diastolic numbers, heart rate, and which arm you took the reading on. If you are taking part in a program that has remote monitoring, your blood pressure readings are automatically shared with your medical provider. If you are unsure, please ask your provider.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/23/2018.

References

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Blood Pressure Cuff Over Clothing

Stethoscope and Blood Pressure Cuff Review

A cuff should never be placed around clothing because your measurement wont be accurate. If youre at home, wear a loose, shirt sleeve shirt. Do the same prior to going to your doctor appointment.

In addition, if you happen to have a long sleeve shirt on, take it off instead of rolling up your sleeve. Often rolling up your sleeve causes the sleeve to tighten up around your arm.

Two reasons why this is incorrect. One, the tight sleeve acts as a tourniquet and can affect blood flow . Two, it frequently results in less room and may cause the cuff placement to be too low.

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Blood Pressure Cuff Placement Effect On Blood Pressure

Measuring your blood pressure accurately is essential for managing and diagnosing your blood pressure . The placement of your blood pressure cuff can affect your measurements in different ways.

If you fail to follow the guidelines outlined above, your results are going to suffer. The following will tell you how different cuff complications affect your blood pressure.

Buying And Maintaining A Monitor

When you first get a blood pressure device, check its accuracy. Do this by comparing its readings with those you get at the doctor’s office. Ask your doctor or nurse to watch you use your device to make sure that you are doing it right and that it works right. It’s a good idea to have your device checked every year at the doctor’s office.

The size of the blood pressure cuff and where you place it can greatly affect how accurate your device is. If the cuff is too small or too large, the results won’t be right. You may have to measure your arm and choose a monitor that comes in the right size.

A monitor that measures blood pressure in your arm is recommended for most people. Blood pressure monitors used on the wrist aren’t as reliable as those that use arm cuffs. Wrist monitors should be used only by people who can’t use arm cuffs for physical reasons. And devices that use finger monitors aren’t recommended at all.footnote 1

Check your blood pressure cuff often. Make sure all of the parts of your monitor are in good condition. Even a small hole or crack in the tubing can lead to inaccurate results.

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Are There Differences Between Taking A Blood Pressure Reading On The Right Arm Vs Left Arm

Blood pressure measurement values vary from the left arm to the right arm. The average is generally within 10 mmHg for most individuals. Omron home blood pressure monitors are generally designed for use on the left arm as they are validated through clinical studies using the left arm. You should talk to your doctor before using the right arm to take a measurement.

Take More Than One Reading

Blood Pressure Cuff &  Stethoscope

Sometimes a single blood pressure reading may not reflect your true pressure. Its always possible, for a number of reasons, your BP may temporary rise or fall.

For this reason, its best to take 3 readings, one minute apart. Some monitors have an advanced averaging feature. It will display the average of the last 3 readings taken within the past 10 minutes.

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Your Readings Exhibit Prejudice

Prejudice for normal readings significantly contributes to inaccuracies in blood pressure measurement. No doubt, youd be suspicious if a fellow EMT reported blood pressures of 120/80 on three patients in a row. As creatures of habit, human beings expect to hear sounds at certain times and when extraneous interference makes a blood pressure difficult to obtain, there is considerable tendency to hear a normal blood pressure.

Orthostatic hypotension is defined as a decrease in systolic blood pressure of 20 mm Hg or more, or diastolic blood pressure decrease of 10 mm Hg or more measured after three minutes of standing quietly.

There are circumstances when BP measurement is simply not possible. For many years, trauma resuscitation guidelines taught that rough estimates of systolic BP could be made by assessing pulses. Presence of a radial pulse was thought to correlate with an SBP of at least 80 mm Hg, a femoral pulse with an SBP of at least 70, and a palpable carotid pulse with an SBP over 60. In recent years, vascular surgery and trauma studies have shown this method to be poorly predictive of actual blood pressure .

Noise is a factor that can also interfere with BP measurement. Many ALS units carry doppler units that measure blood flow with ultrasound waves. Doppler units amplify sound and are useful in high noise environments.

What Is The Best Way To Measure Blood Pressure

The most accurate way to measure blood pressure is using a sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. When you get your blood pressure measured at a medical office, your doctor uses a sphygmomanometer that includes a dial or column, pump, arm cuff, and stethoscope:

  • The cuff is wrapped around your arm while your arm is kept at the same level as your heart.
  • The pump tightens the cuff around your arm, putting pressure on the artery.
  • Your doctor then releases the pressure and uses a stethoscope to measure your pulse rate.
  • Your doctor records the pressure on the dial as your blood starts to flow back to your arm and checks two measurement points to determine your blood pressure reading.

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How Do I Know If My Monitor Is Accurate Or If I Am Using It Correctly

Once you buy your device, have your doctor check it for accuracy. They should check your monitor once a year. On your own, periodically check the tubing for cracks and leaks. Proper care and storage are necessary. Make sure the tubing is not twisted when you store it. Keep it away from heat.

Ask your doctor or nurse to teach you how to use your blood pressure monitor correctly. This will help you achieve good results in controlling your blood pressure.

Where Should The Stethoscope Be Placed

How to: Measure Blood Pressure

Once you understand why you need a stethoscope when taking blood pressure, it is also essential to be familiar with how it should be placed. The diaphragm must be placed flat against the skin, on the arm of the patient. The circumference of the diaphragm must be just underneath the cuff, and be positioned over the artery. Only after the diaphragm is in place should the ear pieces of the stethoscope be placed in the ears to start listening to the blood flow. The head of the stethoscope must not be held down with the thumb, as the thumb has its own pulsation. This might interfere with taking s proper measurement.

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How Can I Check My Blood Pressure At Home Using

But you dont need to go to your doctor just to get a blood pressure reading. The easiest way to monitor your own blood pressure at home is to get a machine that has a blood pressure calculator and digital display.

Purchase a blood pressure monitor cuff that wraps around the upper arm. The cuff should fit well, and not be too loose or too tight when not in use. Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because the readings arent as reliable. When choosing a blood pressure monitor, take it to your doctors office. They may be able to show you how to use it properly and check whether the machine provides accurate readings.

Here are some tips to follow while measuring your blood pressure at home:

  • Before measuring your blood pressure, sit quietly for 5 minutes with your arm relaxed on a supporting surface at the level of your heart.
  • Your back should be supported and both feet should be flat on the floor.
  • The cuff should be positioned on your upper arm as instructed on the guide that came with the monitor. It is easier to use your non-dominant arm .
  • Avoid caffeine, smoking, or exercise at least 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Do not take a reading if stressed or angry.

Blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association are as follows:

Dress Properly And Expose Your Wrist

The wrist cuff should wrap around your skin and not over any clothes. This will allow the monitor to receive the best signal from your blood vessels as possible. Also, consider wearing a short sleeve shirt or a sleeve that can easily be moved up your forearm and out of the way.

A looser more comfortable sleeve would be best, so it doesnt have to be tight or uncomfortable after its moved up your arm.

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How To Use A Sphygmomanometer To Measure Blood Pressure

NurseFocus.net

Knowing how to use a sphygmomanometer to properly check blood pressure is important.

The pandemic and the forced lockdown meant that sales of sphygmomanometers for home use soured during 2020. I have reviewed some of the best for clinical and home use here.

The bottom line is, more people are using sphygmomanometers to test their own blood pressure and more questions are arising on exactly how to use them.

So thats what we look into today. Ill take it step by step, however.

First, well look at what a Sphygmomanometer is, how it works, and how to use it. Most important of all, well cover what the readings actually mean.

So if youre ready, lets jump in.

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