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Blood pressure monitors, the name being self explanatory, are of two types – a manual monitor and an automated device. Blood pressure monitors take two types of pressures, one seen at the top and one at the bottom. Systolic pressure, the top number and the one whose value is generally higher is the blood pressure measured when the heart pumps out blood. Diastolic pressure, the bottom number and lower value of the two, is the blood pressure measured when the heart is taking in blood and is considered to be in a state of relaxation.

Manual and digital blood pressure monitors

Manual blood pressure monitors consist of an inflatable band connected to a measuring device. The band is to be connected to the patient on the upper arm when he is fully relaxed and his arm is resting at the same level as the heart. The band is then inflated with a rubber bulb until blood supply is cut off to the arm, at which point a stethoscope is placed on the arm to listen for the sound of the blood starting to pumping, at which point the systolic pressure is read on the measuring device. The diastolic pressure is read when the sound is no longer heard through the stethoscope.

Digital monitors work in a similar way except that the inflation is done automatically after the cuff is attached to the arm, and the blood pressure is read by the device sensing the vibrations of blood flow in the artery.

How to take accurate readings

Accuracy of blood pressure readings depend on a number of factors. The quality of the device used to measure, whether the individual is fully relaxed, the time of the day, whether the individual has consumed any food, beverages, or has smoked before taking the test, whether his bladder is empty or not, as well as the proper fitting of the device. Remain fully relaxed, do not consume anything 30 minutes prior to taking the test, empty your bladder, and take the test during the same time of the day to avoid inconsistencies. Usually a few readings are taken a few minutes apart and the final reading is an average of them.