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Comparabooblog | March 29, 2017

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Your Guide To Buying a Sphygmomanometer

Your Guide To Buying a Sphygmomanometer
Yehuda Posnick

As we get older, we have to start watching our blood pressure. Over 90% of people who suffer from high blood pressure don’t have any one identifiable cause. The causes could be genetic, physiological or environmental. But in any event, it’s important that we keep track of their blood pressure. High blood pressure left untreated can cause heart disease, stroke, or kidney failure. A good sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure monitor, is essential for such people. In the past you would have to make a trip to the doctor to measure your blood pressure. Nowadays, there are devices that measure blood pressure with great ease—in your own home. You just have to slip them on, press a button or inflate a cuff by hand, and you know your blood pressure within seconds. Here is a guide to some of the best blood pressure measuring devices on the market.

American Diagnostic Center DIAGNOSTIX 700 Pocket Aneroid Sphygmomanometer

American Diagnostic Center DIAGNOSTIX 700 Pocket Aneroid Sphygmomanometer

Types of Sphygmomanometer

  • Manual sphygmomanometer: There are two types of blood pressure monitors that work manually:

    • Mercury sphygmomanometer: This is the traditional type of blood pressure device. It was the first one developed in 1896 by Scipione Riva-Rocci, and perfected by Nicolai Korotkov and Harvey Cushing. You wear a cuff around your upper arm. Then you squeeze a rubber bulb to inflate the cuff, until there is no circulation in the arm. Typically, you (or someone else) listens for a pulse in the brachial artery (where the forearm meets the upper arm) using a stethoscope. Pressurizing the cuff makes mercury go up in a glass column. You then gradually depressurize the cuff by releasing the air inside the cuff. You listen with the stethoscope, until you again start hearing a pulse in the arm. At that point, you look at the height of the mercury in the column. That is the higher, maximal blood pressure number (systolic blood pressure), in units of millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). (That’s the height of the mercury in the glass column.) You continue releasing pressure in the cuff, until you don’t hear any pulse in the arm. Read the mercury column’s height again: that lower, minimal blood pressure is the diastolic blood pressure. The reading is usually given as the systolic over the diastolic pressures, for example: “120 over 72”.

    • Aneroid sphygmomanometer: “Aneroid” means “using no liquid”. These measure blood pressure purely mechanically, without a mercury column. You inflate the cuff in the same way as in the mercury-based device, with a rubber bulb. But here, there is a dial from which you read the systolic and diastolic pressures. Even though there is no mercury and no glass column, the blood pressure readings are the same as in the mercury sphygmomanometer. A problem with the dial-type devices is that they must be checked more often than the mercury-based ones, to see that they are accurate.

  • Digital sphygmomanometer: These can inflate either manually or automatically. It will record the blood pressure readings automatically. Some devices will also display your pulse.

    Veridian Healthcare Citizen Wrist Digital Blood Pressure Monitor

    Veridian Healthcare Citizen Wrist Digital Blood Pressure Monitor

    What People are Saying

Based on all the consumers’ reviews we’ve scanned, these are the top things they mentioned about their new stuff:

  • Where to place the cuff: Some digital monitors require you to place the cuff on your wrist. When you press the button on the device, it starts to inflate. Then it gradually deflates and takes the blood pressure readings. The aneroid cuff is placed on the bicep, on the upper arm.

  • Posture when reading blood pressure: When using a digital monitor that you place on your wrist, make sure that your wrist is resting on something. Keep your arm at the same level as your heart. (Raising your arm will give a lower reading, and lowering your arm will give a mistakenly higher reading.) The patient should be sitting with their arm resting on a table.

  • Consistency: Try out the device several times, to make sure that the device is accurate. There should not be any wide deviations between readings. Also, check your blood pressure on both arms—the readings should be the same.

    Useful Tips for Shoppers

  • Desired blood pressure: What your blood pressure should be varies with age. The desired values are: systolic between 90-119 mm Hg, and diastolic between 60-79 mm Hg.

  • Size of the cuff: There are a variety of sizes of cuffs that you put around your bicep. Some will say that they are for adults. Those can be worn on an arm that is 26 inches in diameter! (For comparison, Arnold Schwarzeneggers’ biceps are only 18” in diameter.) If the cuff is too tight, the meter will give too high a pressure. If the cuff is too loose, it will give too low a reading of pressure.

  • Mobile Sphygmomanometer: You will see some blood pressure monitors (such as the MedPlus Mobile Android) that are called “Mobile”–they are large units that are on a stand on legs, that can be rolled from one room to another.

  • Compact Sphygmomanometer: There are aneroid blood pressure monitors that have the stethoscope connected to the blood pressure cuff. This is especially convenient–you don’t have to buy a stethoscope separately. But be sure that you place the cuff properly: the stethoscope should be placed over the brachial artery, in the crease of the elbow. There should be an artery indicator mark on the cuff to show you how to wear it.

  • D-loop/Velcro: A D-loop is a ring-shaped piece of metal on the inflatable cuff. You slip the loose end of the cuff through the D-loop. It’s more convenient to use sphygmomanometers with this feature. They usually attach with Velcro, to fit exactly to the person’s arm.

    Top Brands

MDF Instrumentshave been making medical supplies, such as stethoscopes, neurological hammers, and blood pressure devices, since 1971. They have their headquarters in Los Angeles, California. They make both digital and analog blood pressure monitors, as well as tuning forks, thermometers, and otoscopes.

American Diagnosticwas founded in 1984 by Marc Blitstein and Neal Weingart. Their headquarters is in Hauppauge, New York. They are manufacturers of diagnostic medical products, instruments and accessories. They make instruments for measuring body temperature and blood pressure, as well as laryngoscopes, stethoscopes, EENT instruments, and more.

Prestige Medicalhas been making medical instruments since 1976. They are located in Northridge, California. They make stethoscopes, sphygmomanometers, oximeters, thermometers, as well as surgical instruments and EMS products.

MedPlus—was founded in 1996, and is located in Edison, New Jersey. They make medical instruments, diagnostic equipment, daily living aids for rehabilitating patients, and hospital and lab supplies.

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