Blood Pressure Cuffs
A blood pressure cuff or sphygmomanometer as it is technically termed is possibly the most widely used of all monitors. Checking BP with a cuff is both a painless and relatively simple exercise. Like all types of BP monitors however, it is vitally important that they be used correctly so as to avoid misdiagnosis and improper treatment.
The term sphygmomanometer has its roots in the ancient Greek words ‘metron' meaning measure and ‘sphygmos' meaning pulse. Simply put therefore, the purpose of a sphygmomanometer is to ‘measure the pulse.'
A cuff model takes a blood pressure measurment by halting the flow of blood into the artery in the arm for a couple of seconds. The inflation valve on the blood pressure cuff is then released, allowing the artery to once again fill with blood. A stethoscope is used to measure both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings in the artery and determine what into what range a person's blood pressure falls.
Blood pressure cuffs come in various sizes and it is essential that the correct size be used when taking a blood pressure measurement. If the cuff is too tight, measurement will result in an elevated reading. This may lead improper diagnosis which can be a serious health hazard, particularly among people who suffer from other conditions such as cardio vascular disease and diabetes. Similarly, misdiagnosis during pregnancy can be detrimental not only to the health of the mother, but also to the wellbeing of her unborn child. Typically they come in three different sizes- Standard Size, Large Adult Size and Adult Thigh Size. Although professionally trained, health care professionals will often out of habit use one size cuff for all their patients. It is therefore up to patients to be aware of precisely what cuff is best suited to their size and body shape.
As a rule of thumb, most adults will be able to use a Regular or Standard Size Cuff with no problem whatsoever. Overweight individuals and pregnant woman carrying excess water are advised to use Large Cuffs, while it is highly recommended that obese people ask for Adult Thigh Cuffs when having their blood pressure measured. On the opposite side of the spectrum, people who are petite should seriously consider using a Child Cuff when having their blood pressure measured, so as to ensure that when fully inflated the cuff is tight enough to sufficiently stop blood flow in the artery.