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Blood Pressure Monitoring

It’s always a good idea to keep close tabs on your “vitals”, especially as you become older (and wiser?). Age, weight, and state of health can bring about changes in vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, body temperature, and breathing capacity. There are medical devices available to keep readings on pulse, temperature, and BP that can be purchased and used at home. Sphygmomanometer is the technical name for a blood pressure monitoring meter.

Blood pressure

This is the amount of pressure that is exerted on the walls of your blood vessels by blood as it circulates throughout your body. There are two readings; one is systolic which refers to the maximum pressure while the diastolic is the term for the minimum pressure. Although circumstances can cause variations, the normal BP is considered to be one hundred fifteen over seventy five or 115 systolic over 75 diastolic as read a blood pressure monitoring device. Blood’s pressure will vary throughout the day and with different circumstances such as stress, exercise, drugs, and nutritional factors. When one has consistently high blood pressure, such as readings of one hundred thirty over ninety and above, they are said to have hypertension. This means their arterial pressure is abnormally high and this can lead to strokes or heart attacks. High BP creates stress on the inner walls of arteries and blood vessels, and is often called the “silent killer” because it may not be detected until it is too late.

Blood pressure monitoring devices

The original monitoring devices, such as the Sphygmomanometer are cumbersome devices primarily found in hospitals. They consist of a measuring unit that includes a mercury manometer, an inflatable cuff, and a bulb used to inflate the cuff and create the pressure (usually applied to the upper arm) by which blood pressure is measured and read. These devices require quiet surroundings because the doctor or nurse who operates the device must listen for the blood to sound differently through a stethoscope as pressure applied through the cuff is released. The pounding or whooshing sound made by blood inside the arteries will let the reader know when blood resumes flowing in that artery. This method is best used in a hospital environment.

Doctor’s offices and home monitoring equipment consist primarily of blood pressure cuffs attached to an oscillometric monitor to read BP by means of MAP or mean arterial pressure. These typically use a wrist cuff with a digital read out but they must be at heart level while the monitor is in use and readings are taken. These battery operated devices make it quick and easy to monitor ones blood pressure while at home, and in a more peaceful setting. Some patients have what is known as the “white coat” condition (doctors wear white coats) that raises both BP and heart rate, so at home readings are generally lower.
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There are devices used to measure blood pressure by attaching a tiny cuff to ones finger tip but these may not be as accurate as the previous two mentioned. However, they are very portable and give a general idea of the condition of ones pressure. And remote monitoring is possible today through use of wireless technology and Bluetooth devices.

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