A sphygmomanometer, also known as a blood pressure meter, blood pressure monitors for home, or blood pressure gauge, is a device used to measure blood pressure, composed of an inflatable cuff to collapse and then release the artery under the cuff in a controlled manner, and a mercury or mechanical manometer to measure the pressure.
It is always used in conjunction with a means to determine at what pressure blood flow is just starting, and at what pressure it is unimpeded. Manual sphygmomanometers are used in conjunction with a stethoscope.
A sphygmomanometer consists of an inflatable cuff, a measuring unit (the mercury manometer, or aneroid gauge), and a mechanism for inflation which may be a manually operated bulb and valve or a pump operated electrically.
Blood pressure at home
Your health care provider may ask you to keep track of your blood pressure at home. To do this, you will need to get a home blood pressure monitors for home. The monitor you choose should be of good quality and fit well.
MANUAL BLOOD PRESSURE MONITORS
- Manual devices include a cuff that wraps around your arm, a rubber squeeze bulb, and a gauge that measures the blood pressure. A stethoscope is needed to listen to the blood pulsing through the artery.
- You can see your blood pressure on the circular dial of the gauge as the needle moves around and the pressure in the cuff rises or falls.
- When used correctly, manual devices are very accurate. However, they are not the recommended type of blood pressure monitor for home use.
DIGITAL BLOOD PRESSURE MONITORS
- A digital device will also have a cuff that wraps around your arm. To inflate the cuff, you may need to use a rubber squeeze ball. Other kinds will inflate automatically when you push a button.
- After the cuff is inflated, the pressure will slowly drop on its own. The screen will show a digital readout of your systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- After showing your blood pressure, the cuff will deflate on its own. With most machines, you must wait for 2 to 3 minutes before using it again.
- A digital blood pressure monitor will not be as accurate if your body is moving when you are using it. Also, an irregular heart rate will make the reading less accurate. However, digital monitors are the best choice for most people.
TIPS FOR MONITORING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
- Practice using the monitor with your provider to make sure you are taking your blood pressure correctly.
- Your arm should be supported, with your upper arm at heart level and feet on the floor (back supported, legs uncrossed).
- It is best to measure your blood pressure after you rest for at least 5 minutes.
- DO NOT take your blood pressure when you are under stress, have had caffeine, or used a tobacco product in the last 30 minutes, or have recently exercised.
- Take at least 2 readings 1 minute apart in the morning before taking medicines and in the evening before eating supper. Try to measure and record BP daily for 5 days and then report your results to your provider.