14 August, 2017
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- FamilyDoctor: Blood Pressure Monitoring at Home
- American Heart Association: Blood Pressure Testing and Measurement
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Equipment for Checking Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force that blood exerts on the blood vessels as it moves throughout the body. Serious complications can develop if blood pressure levels are consistently too high or too low. In order to monitor blood pressure in patients suspected of having abnormal levels, regular blood pressure measurements are taken. A patient who needs to know his blood pressure level needs to have access to the proper equipment. Having calibrated and functional equipment ensures that the patient will be able to accurately measure his blood pressure and monitor any changes.
Aneroid sphygmomanometers are devices that are used to measure blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. Aneroid sphygmomanometers are composed of an inflatable cuff connected by a hollow rubber tube to a rubber bulb. The cuff is placed around the patient’s upper arm, approximately 2 centimeters above the cubital fossa, or the opposite side of the elbow. The rubber bulb is repeatedly squeezed, which causes the cuff to inflate. A gauge connected to the cuff measures the pressure within the cuff. The cuff is inflated until it cuts off blood pressure. Air is slowly released via a valve until blood flow restarts. Two blood pressure levels, systolic and diastolic, can be measured using this procedure.
A stethoscope is a medical device used to listen to faint sounds within the body. A stethoscope is made up of two ear-buds connected by rubber tubing to a listening advice. The listening device is divided into two separate portions: a diaphragm, which is used for listening to high-pitched sounds, and a bell, which is used to listen to low-pitched sound. The bell of the stethoscope used in conjunction with a sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure, reports the National Kidney Foundation. The bell is placed just below the bottom edge of the cuff. When the increased pressure in the inflatable cuff blocks blood flow, sound within the major arteries stops. As the pressure from the cuff is slowly released, sounds, called Korsakoff sounds, can be heard. When the sounds are first heard, the pressure at that moment is measured and recorded. The same is done for the pressure when the sounds are too faint to be heard using a stethoscope. The first measurement is the systolic blood pressure and the second is the diastolic pressure. Normal blood pressure is less than 120 mmHg systolic and less than 80 mmHg diastolic.
Blood pressure can also be measured using a special piece of equipment called a digital monitor, states FamilyDoctor.org. These monitors also use an inflatable cuff. These cuffs can either be inflated manually or be programmed to automatically inflate. Once inflated, the device measures the pressure needed to halt blood flow and the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The blood pressure level is displayed on a digital screen. Often, the digital monitor also records the patient's pulse rate as well. The most accurate versions are used on the upper arm of the patient. Digital monitors that are used on the wrist or finger are not recommended due to inaccuracy.
- blood pressure monitor image by Shirley Hirst from Fotolia.com