How a blood pressure monitor works

Your blood pressure refers to the force of blood as it flows through your arteries. It indicates the degree of resistance that your heart must overcome in order to force blood into arteries at each contraction.        Blood pressure is usually taken using blood pressure monitors.

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These machines may be either manual or automatic. You can use either of them at any time to check your blood pressure. Both give accurate readings as long as they’re correctly used.

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Blood pressure measurements    

As a standard practice, blood pressure measurement is usually given in two numbers. The numbers are expressed in a fraction with the numerator expressing the systolic blood pressure and the denominator indicating the diastolic blood pressure.

Systolic blood pressure indicates the force of blood as the heart’s lower chambers (ventricles) contract to empty out blood.

Diastolic pressure, on the other hand, represents the force registered as the heart’s upper chambers (atria) relax to fill with blood. Blood pressure is measured in units of mm Hg (Mercury).

The pressure during systole is usually higher than that during diastole. The normal systolic blood pressure in adults is on average 120 mm Hg with anywhere between 80-120mm Hg considered as being within the normal range.

Figures higher than 120 mm Hg could be termed as normal to high blood pressure depending on their exact readings. In regards to systolic blood pressure, an optimal pressure of 80 mm Hg is indicated. Normal systolic pressure should range anywhere between 60-80 mm Hg.

Taking into account the aforementioned, a typical blood pressure reading could be therefore 120/80 mm Hg.

Taking blood pressure using a manual blood pressure monitor        The manual blood pressure monitor is also referred to as a sphygmomanometer.

It comprises of an inflatable fabric cuff which is meant to be fitted around your arm. Alongside the cuff, it also has a small rubber pump, a valve at one end of the pump, a sensor, and a tube which connects the sensor to a numbered gauge.

To take your blood pressure, carefully strap the cuff around your left upper arm. The cuff should sit at least 1-2 cm above the depression in your elbow. This helps ensure that the cuff is placed exactly above the brachial artery.

Once the cuff is in place, use the rubber pump to inflate it till it fits very tightly around your arm. You may start to feel some bit of pain at this point. Inflation of the cuff works to temporarily stop blood flow inside your artery.

Following inflation, carefully open the valve and slowly release air so that the cuff starts to deflate. You should start monitoring the numbered gauge at this point to see exactly where it will start to pulse. The point where the first pulsing (dancing) occurs is usually the systolic blood pressure. The point where the pulsing disappears completely is the diastolic blood pressure.

Alternatively, you can also use a stethoscope to help you accurately measure your blood pressure. With the stethoscope, the systolic blood pressure will be the measurement when you first hear a lap sound and the diastolic will be where that sound disappears.

Blood pressure measurement with automatic cuffs

Automatic cuffs work in much the same way as manual cuffs. They are in fact way much easier to use than manual cuffs. All you need to do is to inflate and deflate them then they work out the readings by themselves.

They are the best choice if you’re going to take your blood pressure on your own. Manual cuffs may sometimes require some professional input.

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