Blood Pressure Monitor Comparisons

Written by Sarah Provost
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Blood pressure is the force with which blood flows through the arteries. The more constricted the arteries, the higher the pressure. A blood pressure reading comprises two numbers: the pressure exerted as the heart is pumping is the systolic pressure, and the pressure when the blood is at ebb is the diastolic pressure. There are several means available for monitoring blood pressure at home. Which one is right for you?

Digital Blood Pressure Monitors

The most frequently used home blood pressure monitors are digital. They measure blood pressure using an oscilloscope and display your data on a screen. Semi-automatic monitors require the user to inflate the pressure cuff by means of a rubber bulb. The machine then deflates it at the proper rate and displays a reading. These can be difficult to manage if the user has arthritis or weakness in the hands. Fully automatic machines provide both inflation and deflation.

Manual blood pressure monitors are also available. These require the use of a stethoscope. The user rapidly inflates the cuff, then slowly deflates it. While deflating, the user listens with the stethoscope to the brachial artery where it passes the inside of the elbow. When the first heart sounds are detected, the user reads the figure off a dial. That is the systolic pressure. When the sounds cease, the figure on the dial indicates the diastolic pressure. Manual monitors are not appropriate for hearing-impaired people. They require some skill to use, and are delicate instruments, easily damaged. Their primary advantage is their lower price.

Compact and easily transportable blood pressure monitors that measure at the wrist or finger are also available. The finger monitors are generally considered not to be accurate enough for a precise reading. Wrist monitors are somewhat more accurate, but the readings are easily affected by the user's position.


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