What cuff is the best? The automatic cuffs, wrist cuffs, or the good old fashion take it with the stethoscope way? What have you guys found to get the most accurate readings?
I did some research on this a few weeks ago, as I wanted to monitor at home… and I came across some useful guidelines from Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/HI00016. Basically, the gauge ones are most accurate, but they take some time to get used to, and learn. I tried with one, and I never got used to it. So I now have an automatic/digital one (which also uses an arm cuff and stethoscope). The Mayo Clinic does NOT recommend getting any wrist, or finger blood pressure monitors, however, as they are not very accurate. (Usually, blood pressure at home will vary by about 5 points difference from that taken at the doctor’s office.) I believe the American Hypertension Society had some monitors that were approved for use, and some recommendations. So far, I haven’t had much problems with mine. I bought a generic digital one, from HyVee drug stores. “Smart Read”, and it seems very close to what my blood pressure reads at the doctor’s office. They can run a little pricey, though, at about $40+ for a good one, and especially if you need extra features such as larger display, or a larger arm cuff. Hope this helps!
Thanks Lizmari, I’ ll swing over to that American Hypertension Society and do some digging. My problem is that I used to do power-lifting and have big arms. The Dr’s office had to use a leg type cuff to do an accurate reading. For me its not only the monitor but also the right cuff size. I also force the Dr to take my readings after the nurse so I get two readings. I know he doesn’t like it but I make him do it anyways. I want to make sure I get the right unit for accuracy. Thanks for the tips! Have a great 2010!
On the web, there are wholesalers that sell extra large cuffs and such, and usually, for a lot cheaper than a store.
This is the British list of certified devices… http://www.bhsoc.org/blood_pressure_list.stm
Yeah the wrist and finger measurements can be way off. The digital ones are o.k. Most important is to take blood pressure at different times of the day over a series of days. Hope your blood pressure is o.k.
My first monitor was an Omron for which I purchased the extra large cuff to fit The Other Half. I picked up a Lumiscope wrist monitor a few years later, and its numbers were about 10 points lower on both systolic and diastolic. We checked it in the doctor’s office, and it turned out the wrist monitor – to our surprise – was the accurate monitor, and the Omron was off.
Whatever you decide upon, have it checked out against the monitors in the doctor’s office.
Don’t know the answer, but I found this great chart. These levels are sitting with your arm/shoulder relaxed and your arm at heart level. They will be lower if you are standing and higher if you are lying down.
I have problems with low blood pressure, so I had to learn to stand slowly. Darn genetics!
I have owned several automatic digital arm cuff models which all suffered from a variety of problems. They frequently were unable to properly lock onto the correct systolic and diastolic levels and they eventually all broke and were not repairable. It all seemed like a huge waste of money. I ended up just buying $15 old fashioned manual gauge models. The have the stethoscope built in so you can take the measurements yourself. Although it takes some practice to locate the stethoscope to properly monitor the pulse and to detect the systolic and diastoic points, it is now second nature. I’ve never had one of my $15 cuffs break (and I own several).
Thanks for all the help and direction everyone. I will keep searching but you gave me some good direction to go. Happy New Year 2010!
Kathyann my pressure is a little above 130 and I am working on getting it down below that into the lower 120’s for the top systolic number… Thanks for caring.
I’m glad to hear that, Pauly. My pressure used to be about 130/70 but now 112/60 because I lost weight unintentionally before being diagnosed. My doc always says we are more prone to strokes and heart attacks because of the damage BG does to our blood vessels. Have you heard that too?
I have an Omron also and use a wrist version for ease…tested it against my doctor (HTN specialist/cardiologist) and has always been spot on. I check a few times a year…just do a reading while you are waiting for them and then have the doctor double check.
Oh ya, my DOC has been yelling at me to get it lower all along and I know it puts you at great risk for heart or stroke. I am doing much better now though with the weight loss because of diabetes and since the DX. But I am still chipping away at those numbers. Sometimes at 119/77 other times 131/80. I am shooting for the lower figure and to have that one consistent.
I know, they take mine at the dentist’s office too. Some cheap old wrist thing they got at Walgreens. If they are going to offer it, it’s like do it right!
Weight loss has helped my BP like you. My girlfriends always into you cant eat that or this and says I will just eat what your eating, and guess what, wala, she is loosing weight now too… Thanks for posting… talk to ya!!!
Hey Patricia, Will do, good idea!. What gets me Patricia, and I have read many of your great posts is this whole blood pressure thing at these clinics. The nurse takes one reading and then the DR makes his/her decision for meds based off that one reading! One time I had a 17 year old girl who was an intern take my BP and totally misread it and the Dr was going to prescribe off that. I left that clinic after that one…
I had a physical at the Mayo Clinic and they had you sit in a chair with a BP machine and took readings for 1/2 hour. Since Hypertension is so prevalent in the public thats how it should be done. I dont like these single readings at these clinics. Had to get it off my chest… Talk to ya!
Hi Pauly, happy New Year,
Blood pressure readings are a real sticking point for me. People go about saying “my blood pressure is 130/75” as if its always that same number, and never varies. that is like Diabetics who proclaim my BG is 115… Not useful information given that way.
I also take issue with the statement in the link for the Mayo Clinic about home readings being 5 points different than at the doctor’s office. I have been monitoring my BP for probably fifteen years, and find that its a lot like BG readings. Take one and then another, and they are not the same, so when professionals start writing about 5 point differences between locations, I tend to question why they think they can make such accurate readings.
Ten doctors would get ten different readings from one patient, first because they simply hear and do it differently, and also it changes that much over a short amount of time.
I used to have high blood pressure from hypertension and anxiety, and learned not to pay attention to the precise reading, but to just track it, and note the trends.
The nurse comes and gets me after the ridiculous wait time, walks a hundred miles an hour and weighs me, takes my temp and pulse, then another jaunt to the exam room where I sit down and she takes my BP right away. After the usual twenty minute wait for the Doctor, I ask him to take it, and its much lower for several reasons. I have relaxed a bit, and have been sitting still for a time, plus, as he admits, his nurse gets different readings than he does…
Since I check at home, he used to ask me “what is your blood pressure” and my answer is always “when?” because it matters a lot. He finally gave up asking me, because I simply wanted him to tell me when to check it, and how long to relax and wait before doing so, and he didn’t think it mattered much. Sad, but true. Just like saying “test your BG level once a day” I say “when” and he says it doesn’t matter. We all know how ridiculous that is.
If I get up after sending this message and go check my BP, it will be something like 130/70. I always sit the same and hold my arm the same, as its important to do it the same way every time. If I sit still and breath real deep and easy, in a few minutes, it will be 110/65, and if I give it a full five minutes of meditation and measured breathing, it has been known to dive to 100/60. At night, before bed. I can sit and read, and test after maybe ten minutes of no real activity at all, and I have seen it 92/55 and flirted with 89 and 50 more than once.
(those are approximate numbers) During the day, if I am busy, moving around a lot, and I just sit down and check, it can be 145/70, so given all those varying numbers, how do I answer the question “what is my blood pressure?”
Ever been in the hospital, or hooked up to a machine in the ER with continuous BP monitoring? After a stroke I spent four hours with one of those on me, and marveled that I was laying down, and my arms were at my side, and they were taking my BP and using those numbers to diagnose my condition. Everyone in the hospital gets their BP taken laying down, but the Mayo Clinic, and most other sources, imply that to be inaccurate… Hmmm…Heck, any TV medical show will have the victim get their BP taken while laying on the ground, and on the gurney to the ambulance. In fact, injured people never sit up and have it measured. The whole time they are hurt, all through any surgery, and during recovery, they are tested laying down, arms at their side
Anyway, I just take my readings, and have come to learn my body well enough to know when its gonna be a bit high, and what to do to make it really low. My systolic is the one that fluctuates the most, as the diastolic is nearly always 65-70. That is the hypertension, anxiety, and simply an indicator that I have been moving around a lot, stairs, walking, or whatever.
I have been using a digital arm monitor for all this time. It requires me to pump it up manually, and then does the readings. It constantly checks out very close to the doctor’s test, and as I said, just like the BG monitor, if its off a bit, I don’'t think it matters all the much. I prefer the simplicity over the stethoscope and cuff as I think over the long term, its more repeatable and that makes for better long term accuracy.
Trends are what we look for. I am sure after a full weight session, your’s is elevated over what it will be when you cool down, and relax for a time.
As so many pointed out, larger cuffs are found pretty easy on the net. I have bought parts for mine several times that way.
Hope you find something that works for you, that is easy and doesn’t discourage you from monitoring your BP. Sometimes we get to fancy, things are clunky, and the monitor ends up in the closet
There you go. Ten times more info than you asked for! lol!
Hey John, I always enjoy your posts. Man its like reading an article and so well thought out. I think there is just as much ignorance about blood pressure (how to take it properly) as there is about diabetes. One time I told my Dr he should have his nurse take it on both arms and then see what it is, well… he didnt like that comment, who am I to question. I remember Dr Rosenthal the FOX news medical contributer and cardiologist talking about taking it on both arms. Moreover when I saw a cardiologist one time he took it on both arms but my GP doesnt. Man oh man…
Anyways thanks for the insight. Like you said, I dont want my new monitor to end up in the closet! Have a great 2010 John! Talk to ya!