How to use a Blood Pressure Cuff

What is a blood pressure cuff?

This is an instrument used in measuring blood pressure mainly in the peripheral arteries of the arm or in the leg. It is also called the sphygmomanometer and various types of mercury based, electronic as well as other types of makes are available in the market. The cuff of the instrument would be the part which will be wrapped around the arm so as to detect the pressure within the arteries. The instrument will also contain a dial or a display of sort in order to provide the user with a pressure value which will be calibrated according to mercury millimeters.

What does it measure?

The blood pressure meter will detect the highest pressure in the arterial system at times of heart contraction and the lowest pressure level at times of heart relaxation. These two values will be named as the systolic blood pressure and the diastolic blood pressure respectively.

How to apply the blood pressure cuff to a patient?

-Firstly, the appropriate size of the blood pressure should be chosen and there are several sizes available for infants, children, adults and for the obese individuals.

-After selecting the appropriate size, the patient should be asked to sit or lie on the bed with the arm which you intend to check laying on the table or else by the side of the bed.

-The cuff should be fully deflated before applying on to the arm.

-The palms should face upwards at the time of applying the cuff and it should be applied about 1 inch above the cubital fossa of the elbow joint.

-Following wrapping of the cuff, it should be secured with Velcro attached and you should not apply any sort of pressure over the cuff to keep it secures.

-A good indicator as to the best fit would be, the ability to insert one finger between the cuff and the arm without much difficulty.

How to measure the blood pressure?

-Following applications of the cuff, the stethoscope drum should be placed just above the cubital fossa on the inner aspect. In case it is an electronic instrument, the use of a stethoscope would not be necessary.

-The cuff should be inflated quickly by compressing the bulb that is attached to the cuff and initially it is enough to inflate the cuff to around 150 mmHg or even less in a child.

-Gradually release the valve in the bulb to deflate the cuff and listen to the appearance of a sound through your stethoscope.

-The level at which the sounds appear would be taken in as the systolic pressure and the level at which the sounds disappear would be taken in as the diastolic pressure.

-Completely deflate the cuff before taking it off

In case of electronic monitors, the pressure would be indicated on the screen automatically, but this might not be accurate due to calibration variations.