Monitoring blood pressure

Blood pressure pic

Monitoring a patient’s blood pressure is a ‘staple’ when we care for patients – and the patient-facing among us will take a blood pressure almost every day.

But there can be a difference in blood pressure readings depending on what you’re using to take them; an up to 10% differential rate has been reported between taking a blood pressure manually and using the automated facility on the new Corpuls units.

And it’s also worth considering other factors which can affect a patient’s BP reading on a minute-by-minute basis:

  • Position of the cuff: remember to remove tight or restrictive clothing from the upper arm.

The centre of the bladder should be positioned over the brachial artery and the arm should be horizontal, in line with the sternum if possible, and supported.  An unsupported arm can produce a variance in reading of up to 10%.

  • Size of the cuff: using a cuff that is too small or too large can give an inaccurate reading. The Corpuls unit supports a variety of cuff sizes, and these are slightly different to those available with the Zoll, but this should not affect measurements. Always ensure that the cuff size is appropriate, is not overstretched, that the Velcro meets properly, and that the cuff is not wrapped around the arm more than once.
  • The patient: respiration, emotion, exertion and pain can also affect BP from moment to moment.

If in doubt, please take three blood pressures for each reading and use the average of the three, as a guide.

Where possible also look to undertake a manual BP as well. The results from both methods should be considered with the patient’s presentation as well.

Published 20th April, 2016

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