grey nylon cuff with D-ring, grey rough PVC bulb, PVC inflation system, non-stop pin, single tubing.
The lowly, unglamorous sphygmomanometer or blood pressure cuff is the quiet workhorse of the doctor's office, clinic, or hospital. It measures a person's blood pressure. The word, sphygmomomanometer comes from the Greek "sphygmos" (pulse) and the scientific term manometer (pressure meter.) This medical device was invented in 1881 by Samuel Siegfried Karl Ritter von Basch, an Austrian physician. The sphygmomanometer has worked very simply from it's invention to the present. It is made up of a closeable arm band with an inflatable bladder, with a tube leading to a bulb used as a pump. The bulb has a stopper valve so air will not escape prematurely. There are many variations in sphygomanometers but the basic function is the same. The idea is to block the blood flow in the arm and to check the readings when the air is slowly released to measure the pressures.
The blood pressure, simply stated, is the stress placed on the walls of the blood vessels and the heart chambers by the flow of blood. The arterial pressure, measured by the sphygmomanometer is a measure of how much blood the heart pumps and the resistance in the arteries. The Mayo Clinic lists a normal blood pressure as 120/80. No one has that reading every time a reading is taken. Many factors effect a blood pressure like: time of day, level of exercise, stress level, many diseases and some medications. In a normal, healthy person, when the blood vessels are constricted such as: after a cup of coffee, a stressful situation or physical activity, the pressure in the vessels will be higher. In a relaxed state with the heart beating slowly and the blood vessels dilated such as after a nap or a quiet evening at home, the pressure in the vessels should be lower. A single high blood pressure reading is not a disease. It takes a series of high readings to determine if a patient has hypertension.
A sphygmomanometer works by reading two pressures, or Korotkoff sounds. These two sounds are: a systolic, for heart systole or period of contraction when the heart pumps blood into the system, and a diastolic, for diastole or period of time when the heart relaxes and fills up again. The blood pressure is usually taken with the patient either sitting or lying down. The cuff is wrapped around the upper arm and secured with the velcro fasteners. The bell of the stethoscope is placed over the artery in front and to the inside of the elbow. The cuff is then inflated with the bulb to the point that stops the flow of blood to the arm. The air is released slowly. The first sound heard is the systolic pressure. This happens when the cuff pressure is less than the pressure of the blood in the artery. As the cuff further deflates, when the sound quits is the diastolic pressure. The difference between the two is the pulse pressure, representing the force that your heart generates each time it contracts or beats.
The best sphygmomanometer to use depends totally what it is used for. They can be manual or electronic. The most accurate is the mercury sphygmomanometer. It measues blood pressure by observing the height of a column of mercury. It is fragile and must be attached to something sturdy. The most commonly used is the aneroid sphygmomanometer. It is less accurate but more portable for wider use. It measures blood pressure on a dial. Digital sphygmomanometers are growing in use. They are the least accurate because they calculate the pressure rather than reading it off of a scale. The cuff in a digital sphygmomanometer can be wrapped around an upper arm, a wrist or a finger, depending on which one you have. These require very little instruction and are best for use in the home on the same person all the time. High tech, fully automated sphygmomanometers are used in intensive care units, operating rooms and recovery rooms for continuous monitoring of blood pressures in critically ill patients. Manual, hand pump sphygmomanometers are used in hospitals and outpatient clinics to get routine blood pressures. Only manual sphygomanometers require the use of a stethoscope.
However you measure it, your blood pressure is important. Everyday more people are diagnosed with hypertension without realizing they have it. If you find out that your pressure is high, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Many things can cause hypertension. Most are very treatable.
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