Using A Blood Pressure Monitor

Written by Sarah Provost
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If your doctor has recommended that you measure your blood pressure at home, or if you simply want to keep an eye on it yourself, you can use either an aneroid monitor or a digital monitor. An aneroid monitor has a cuff that is inflated by squeezing a rubber bulb. The reading is shown by a pointer on a dial gauge. With a digital monitor, the data is shown on a screen. The cuffs may be inflated by hand or automatically.

There are two figures that make up a blood pressure reading. The systolic blood pressure is the maximum pressure in an artery, and the diastolic is the minimum pressure. The systolic number is always written first.

How to Use a Blood Pressure Monitor

Before you begin using either type of blood pressure monitor, you should rest for two to three minutes, without talking. Sit comfortably, with your arms and legs uncrossed and one arm resting on a surface at about the height of your heart. Wrap the cuff around that arm, with the lower edge at least an inch above the crease in your elbow. The cuff should be snug, but not tight. Test by inserting a fingertip under the cuff.

If you are using an aneroid monitor, put the stethoscope ear piece in your ears, facing forward, and press the disk lightly on the inside of your elbow. Quickly inflate the cuff to 30-40 points higher than your last systolic reading. Slowly release the valve to let a little air out of the cuff. Continue deflating slowly until you hear a heartbeat. At that point, the number indicated on the dial is your systolic pressure. Keep deflating the cuff until you can no longer hear the heartbeat. This number is your diastolic pressure.

If you are using a digital monitor, rest and prepare the cuff as for the aneroid monitor. If your machine requires, inflate the cuff. If it is automated, simply press the button to begin. The cuff will deflate automatically, and your systolic and diastolic numbers will be displayed on the screen. If you want to measure again, with either kind of monitor, wait two or three minutes before re-inflating the cuff.

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