How To Measure Blood Pressure With Sphygmomanometer
Blood pressure is the barometer of your body, and a good way to know what’s going inside it. Almost 60 million American have high blood pressure, which is about one-fifth of the total population.
The irony is, only half of them are aware of it. The main reason is it rarely show any symptom outside most of the time. Many people get to know it when they become a victim of stroke, heart attack, atherosclerosis (tapering of the arteries), and kidney failure. If you know how to measure blood pressure with sphygmomanometer, you can do so from home.
You should measure your blood pressure regularly. Of course, the best way is to go to the doctor. But some people suffer from “White Coat Hypertension”, which means seeing a doctor increases their nervousness, thus the blood pressure. You can gauge your blood pressure at home, and a sphygmomanometer will come handy in that moment.
What is a sphygmomanometer?
To most people, sphygmomanometer doesn’t need any introduction. This is a cuff which is made of inflatable rubber and can be wrapped around the arm. The calf can be inflated by a bulb and deflated by a valve. A stethoscope is then used to hear the blood flow in the artery.
Interested about how sphygmomanometer pronounces? Watch the short video to save some hassle to pronounce it at a medicine store.
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Sphygmomanometer - parts names
Knowing the parts of a sphygmomanometer will allow you to check if the set is complete when you purchase it from a store.
Let’s check what parts a sphygmomanometer is consisted of-
- Bladder- An inflatable rubber bag.
- Cuff – holds the bladder.
- Manometer- Shows the reading, can be digital or dial.
- Bulb- Used to inflate the bladder with air.
Sphygmomanometer working principle
Let’s jump into sphygmomanometer working principles in short. Sphygmomanometer cuts off the flow of your blood temporarily. Upon the release of the valve, the cuff starts to deflate slowly. The doctor measures the flow by using the stethoscope. The sound of blood running through arteries indicate the reading.
The first sound of blood rushing through the artery refers to systolic pressure. Once the sound starts to diminish, the sound gauge indicates the blood pressure of heart at rest, known as diastolic pressure.
Millimeters of mercury is used as the measurement of blood pressure. A normal blood pressure of systolic and diastolic number is 120/80 mmHg.
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How to measure blood pressure with sphygmomanometer
7 steps to accurate blood pressure measurement:
1. Sit in a comfortable place, rest your arm on a table or something. Make sure your arm is elevated. In this way, when you bend your elbow, it will be parallel with the heart. This will prevent overestimation or underestimation of blood pressure.
2. Open the kit and put the items on a table. Untangle the tube with care. Roll up your sleeves and get ready.
3. Some specialists suggest to use the left hand, but reality any hand will do. If you are checking by yourself and a right-handed person, use your left hand and vice versa.
4. Wrap the cuff along with the bladder around your arm. The cuff should be fitted, but not too much tight.
5. The head of the stethoscope should be tucked under the cuff gently. The flat side should be facing the skin evenly. You do not need to get stressed to push it under the cuff, just place it above brachial artery and put on the earpieces.
Many people tempt to hold the stethoscope with their thumb. Which is incorrect, because the thumb has its own pulse. If you need to, use the index and middle finger.
6. If the pressure gauge is clipped to the cuff, then unclip it. Put it in a visible and stable place, above a hard surface. Make sure the room has an adequate level of light so that you can see the needle reading clearly. If the pressure gauge is attached to the bulb, don’t bother with this step.
7. Tighten the valve, to an extent that no air leaks. Do not twist it too hard, this might result to the unease of releasing the valve later.
How to read the numbers on a sphygmomanometer?
1. Start pumping the bulb and watch the pressure gauge. Wait until the reading reaches 180 mmHg. This will temporarily cut the blood flow. The person might feel a little uncomfortable, but the step is short and important.
2. Release the valve at a rate of 3mm per second, not too quickly, but at a slow and steady pace. Keep an eye on the pressure gauge.
If you can, hold the valve with the hand on your cuff arm, while holding the stethoscope with the free arm. You can take help if there’s someone nearby.
3. Hear carefully for an audible sound on your earpieces. You will hear a thump on your ears, note down the reading on the pressure gauge. This is your systolic reading, measuring the blood pressure when your blood exerts the artery wall after the heart beats. This is the highest reading of two blood pressure measurement.
4. Don’t stop, keep looking at the gauge. The thumping noise will fade slowly and at last, disappear after a ‘whooss’ sound. Take a note of that number. This is your diastolic reading, measuring the blood pressure when your blood exerts the artery wall when your heart rests.
Analyze The Readings
Know how to interpret the numbers you get. Here’s a list of blood pressure consideration for your assistance.
Blood Pressure Level
Level 1 hypertension
Level 2 hypertension
Blood pressure with low reading is acceptable. You do not need to panic if you see a little down on the reading. For example, low blood pressure of 85/55 mmHg is still acceptable. However, if you feel any discomfort, do not hesitate to call a doctor.
If your blood pressure is constantly near the 140/90 mmHg mark. You should consult a doctor.
How to measure blood pressure with sphygmomanometer video
Around 610,000 people die of heart disease in America every year. The ratio is around 1 of every 4 deaths. The reason for telling these statistics isn’t scaring you. The reason is to show there is nothing to take the matter of heart condition lightly.
Blood pressure is a good indication of the heart condition. Measuring and keeping a tab on your blood pressure will warn you beforehand about any unrest in your body. If you know how to measure blood pressure with sphygmomanometer, it will come useful at critical times.
Let’s just be careful. Who doesn’t know it’s better to stay safe than sorry, right?