Choosing the Right Sphygmomanometer

A sphygmomanometer, also known as a blood pressure monitor, is a medical device that measures systolic and diastolic blood pressure in a non-invasive manner.

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  • What are the different types of sphygmomanometers?

    OMRON electric arm sphygmomanometer

    There are two main types of sphygmomanometers: electronic and manual.

    Electronic blood pressure monitors: automatically measure blood pressure and provide a digital display of the measurement. They are mainly used by patients for self-measurement but are also increasingly being used by health care professionals. There are two types of electronic blood pressure monitors:

    • Arm: these easy-to-use devices consist of an armband and an electronic pressure gauge. Taking measurements with arm blood pressure monitors may be more painful than with wrist models.
    • Wrist: they have a cuff that attaches around the wrist. The electronic pressure gauge is mounted directly on the cuff, which saves a lot of space. These devices are ideal for patients who travel a lot.
    Spengler cuff-mounted sphygmomanometer

    Spengler cuff-mounted sphygmomanometer

    Manual sphygmomanometers: these traditional blood pressure monitors are mainly intended for health care professionals. They allow the patient’s blood pressure to be measured by the auscultatory method. They are used with a stethoscope and an inflatable cuff connected to a needle pressure gauge. There are two types:

    • Cuff-mounted: these devices were the first to be commercialized. They have the pressure gauge attached directly to the cuff and the pressure values are read on the needle dial. Many professionals use this type of device because of its high accuracy. However, due to their weight (with the pressure gauge placed on the cuff), cuff-mounted sphygmomanometers may be more difficult to use on children or elderly people. Pediatricians and geriatricians will therefore prefer to choose hand-held sphygmomanometers that have a lighter cuff as the pressure gauge is not attached directly to it.
    • Hand-held: these are the most popular type of sphygmomanometer. They have a pressure gauge at the same level as the bulb and not on the cuff. The bulb is the part of the device used to inflate the cuff in order to measure the blood pressure. Unlike cuff-mounted sphygmomanometers, hand-held ones allow the cuff to be changed very quickly to adapt to the patient’s morphology by simply removing the tube that connects the pressure gauge to the cuff. This is an undeniable advantage for general practitioners who see patients of all ages and weights. The only downside is that the user will have to bear the weight of the pressure gauge on the bulb with each use.
  • Should you choose an electronic blood pressure monitor or a manual sphygmomanometer?

    Beurer electronic wrist sphygmomanometer

    Beurer electronic wrist sphygmomanometer

    Each one has advantages and disadvantages:

    Electronic blood pressure monitors: Overall, electronic devices make it much easier to read blood pressure. These blood pressure monitors are completely automatic. All you have to do is put on the cuff and press the button. The device automatically inflates the cuff and displays the systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements on the digital display. On the screen you can read both numbers followed by the pulse. Some models also offer other features such as arrhythmia detection. The device’s memory also allows previous measurements to be displayed, making it suitable for self-measurement at home for patients whose follow-up care requires regular blood pressure measurements.

    • Wrist models: are lighter and easier to transport than arm models, which is an advantage in self-measurement, especially for people who travel often. However, their measurement is often less accurate than that obtained with other types of blood pressure monitors.
    • Arm models: they provide a reliable blood pressure measurement and are perfectly suited for self-measurement at home or for doctors at health care facilities.
    Spengler hand-held sphygmomanometer

    Spengler hand-held sphygmomanometer

    Manual models: manual sphygmomanometers are mainly used by medical professionals. They are generally more accurate but require a perfect command of the measurement procedure, which is entirely manual.

    • Cuff-mounted: their main advantage is that they provide very accurate measurement. They are also less constraining for the doctor taking the measurement as he or she won’t have to bear the weight of the pressure gauge on the bulb. The disadvantage is that the weight of the pressure gauge has to be born by the patient’s arm. Cuff-mounted sphygmomanometers are therefore difficult to use on babies or the elderly.
    • Hand-held: these sphygmomanometers have lighter cuffs and are therefore more comfortable for the patient. They are also easier to put on the patient and the cuff can be changed very quickly (as opposed to cuff-mounted sphygmomanometers ). If it becomes worn out, it will be easier to replace the cuff.
  • What other criteria should you take into account when choosing a sphygmomanometer?

    It is important to take a number of criteria into account when purchasing a sphygmomanometer, such as the type of device (see questions 1 and 2) or the size of the cuff (circumference? flexible? pre-punched? etc.).

    If you wish to purchase an electronic model, it’s important to verify if it has the following options:

    – Arrhythmia detection
    – Movement detection
    – Indication of hypertension
    – Saving previous measurements
    – Good results reliability/price ratio.

  • What are the latest features available for electronic blood pressure monitors?

    Connected electronic blood pressure monitors are becoming increasingly popular and are very suitable for self-measurement. They are easy to use and compact, and give you the option of transferring results via Wifi or Bluetooth to a smartphone, tablet or PC. This means that they ensure more thorough follow-up care for the patient (regularity of measurements, comparison and monitoring of blood pressure evolution, etc.) and enable sharing measurements with a doctor.

    Connected blood pressure monitors help patients take their measurements regularly at home and favor diligence in self-measurement.

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