How To Use A Sphygmomanometer

Sphygmomanometer is device that measures blood pressure or BP. It is commonly known as the blood pressure meter. It is usually comprised of a pressure gauge, an inflatable cuff that is wrapped around the arm to restrict blood flow, an inflation bulb and valve; this is also used with a stethoscope. This was invented by Samuel Siegfried Karl Ritter von Basch in 1881. Scipione Riva-Rocci was able to make easier version to use in 1896. But it was Harvey Cushing who was able to popularize this device when he discovered it in 1901.

To operate a sphygmomanometer, first place the inflatable cuff around the upper around, at just about the same height as heart. The cuff should be smoothly and snugly wrapped around. Putting the cuff too tight will result to a high reading and too loose will result to a low reading. The arm should also be supported. Inflate the cuff using the inflation bulb until the flow of blood is cut off. Place the end of the stethoscope on the elbow then slowly and steadily deflate the cuff using the valve. As the air is being released, carefully listen to thumping sounds, this is called the “Korotkoff sounds”. The pressure where the first sound was heard is the systolic pressure and the last sound heard is the diastolic pressure. This is how to use a mechanical or a manual sphygmomanometer.

There are disadvantages in using a manual sphygmomanometer to measure BP especially in a noisy environment and they can only be operated by a trained person. Fortunately, there are now automatic blood pressure monitor devices in the market, like the Omron Blood Pressure monitor. They are electronic, ideal to operate in noisy environment, easy to operate, very portable and have automatic inflating cuffs. They do not actually measure the BP but derive their calculations for systolic and diastolic values from the measurement of the mean arterial pressure. There are a wide variety of automatic blood pressure monitors to choose from. Some can be fitted to the wrist and others on the upper arm, but when using them, they should be at level with the heart.

There is also the digital portable finger blood pressure monitor that is the smallest in the market today that come with an automatic inflator, but they are less accurate.