How to Buy a Blood Pressure Cuff

To buy a blood pressure cuff or monitor you need to know what diagnostic features you need, your price range and how frequently you will be testing blood pressure. It's important to buy your blood pressure cuff from a reputable medical supplies retailer that has a specialist on staff that can teach you how to properly operate the machine. Many people use the terms "blood pressure cuff" and "blood pressure monitor" interchangeably, but it's rare to buy the cuff without investing in an entire monitor. Here's how to buy a blood pressure cuff.


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    Determine your price range.
    • Blood pressure monitors can range in price from $20 to over $100. The brand of the cuff and the features it includes factor heavily into this price. Decide before shopping how much you can afford to spend. This will help you focus on monitors that meet your budget.
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    Choose a model. Blood pressure monitors come in manual, semi-automatic and automatic models. Each kind of model requires the user to perform different functions.
    • Manual blood pressure cuffs must be wrapped around your arm and pumped up using a rubber bulb at the end of the cuff. You must read the blood pressure from the manual dial and store it yourself. These are the least expensive monitors and cuffs but they require the most input from the user.
    • Semi-automatic monitors also need to be wrapped around your arm but have automatic reading functions. The user presses a button and the monitor automatically inflates, records the blood pressure and displays it on a digital display on the monitor's screen. These monitors provide some memory storage for storing your readings in the machine instead of having to record them yourself. Semi-automatic cuffs fall in the middle of the price range.
    • Automatic monitors have molded cuffs that the user slides up the arm without wrapping it. Pressing one button inflates the cuff to the necessary caliber, reads your blood pressure and displays and stores it. These monitors tend to be the most expensive but also offer the most additional features and storage capacity.
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    Decide whether you will test blood pressure on the wrist or upper arm.
    • Wrist blood pressure cuffs are smaller than upper arm cuffs and only come in automatic models. The cuff is placed on the wrist where a blood pressure reading is taken automatically. Some doctors feel that wrist monitors are less accurate than upper arm monitors because they are further away from the flow of blood from the heart and may, therefore, not completely read the user's true blood pressure.
    • Upper arm cuffs are larger but they offer more choices in model style and price range. Upper arm cuffs could require the user to wrap the cuff correctly before the blood pressure reading can be taken, but most health professionals feel that these are the most accurate model of cuff.
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    Measure the wrist or arm once you've chosen a testing site. Wrist monitors typically fit wrists up to 10 inches (25.4 cm) in circumference and most upper arm monitors have cuffs that can fit an arm up to 18 inches (45.7 cm) in circumference. If your arm (or your patient's arm) is larger, choose a monitor that specifies it has a large cuff, which usually fits an arm up to 24 inches (61.0 cm) around.
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    Assess memory storage based on how many times per day you need to test blood pressure.
    • Semi-automatic and automatic blood pressure cuffs are equipped with memory storage that can store up to 200 blood pressure readings. Monitors tend to increase in price with larger memory storage. Home users testing once or twice a week to make sure blood pressure stays normal will be well-equipped with a monitor that stores 20 readings. If you're tracking your pressure daily to report it to your doctor, a monitor that stores 100 readings will be better suited to your needs.
    • Some monitors can store readings for multiple users. Consider a multiple user monitor if you and another family member will both be testing your blood pressure regularly.
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    Evaluate additional monitor features.
    • Semi-automatic and automatic blood pressure monitors now come equipped with additional features that can measure pulse rate, detect irregular heartbeat and track changes per second in your systolic or diastolic rates. These features will raise the price of the monitor, so consider carefully whether you really need them. Users tracking blood pressure to monitor a heart condition could benefit from these features, but they might be unnecessary for others.
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    Read warranty options.
    • Most blood pressure monitors and cuffs will have a warranty available for purchase that will guarantee the function of the monitor from 1 to 5 years. Some warranties cover the whole monitor, while others only cover the digital display or the actual monitor, but not the cuff. Some brands will charge an additional fee for warranty activation while other brands offer the warranty free with the purchase of the monitor.
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    Learn how to use the blood pressure cuff from a professional.
    • It's best to purchase your blood pressure monitor and cuff from a facility with a health care equipment specialist on staff that can help you understand how to properly operate your monitor and store your readings. If this isn't available, schedule an appointment with your doctor or a nurse. Learn what steps to take before taking a reading to ensure that it's accurate. Learn how to utilize all the features included in your blood pressure monitor.

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Categories: Medication and Medical Equipment