Everything you need to know about blood pressure monitors
Blood pressure monitors, automated noninvasive blood pressure monitors, NIBP Monitors, or electronic sphygmomanometers, have made measurement and triage easier and more convenient in the ER, Clinic, Doctor’s Office or Emergency Room, but these devices can cost a fortune. Accutorr Plus Blood Pressure Monitor Most of us would be delighted to save money buying blood pressure monitors and other used medical equipment and would like to know what to look for and where to find bargains.
Home monitors range from the simple cuff with a means to hold the stethoscope in place with one hand for do it yourself readings to sophisticated electronic NIBP monitors costing hundreds of dollars. Some medical monitors cost thousands of dollars at that. Bargains for new and used medical equipment are very common and pretty easy to find. One great place to find blood pressure monitors for low cost is www.absolutemed.com. Also check online bulletin boards and disease support groups for free blood pressure monitors and other medical equipment or very cheap prices.
There are many companies that sell nothing but used and refurbished medical equipment, both brick and mortar and virtual stores. Health related charities and some clinics will have loaners or other free options as well. Drug companies often donate monitors to give to patients, so ask your doctor. You will also want to take your monitor in to calibrate it with a medically accurate blood pressure monitor so that you will know how real your readings really are. Ideally, your machine should be bio-med certified from time to time to ensure optimal condition of the machine and all cuffs and hoses.
Blood Pressure Monitors Overview
Blood pressure monitors, automated noninvasive versions, NIBP Monitors, or electronic sphygmomanometers, have made it easier for physicians to evaluate patients’ cardiovascular health.
These devices are continually improving in quality, technology, and accuracy, which help doctors determine the best possible management plan for each patient, and the need to update or modify their current therapy.
Over the past few decades, chronic blood hypertension’s prevalence has skyrocketed, with millions of new cases diagnosed every year.
Unfortunately, this disease has a myriad of complications that destroy the body, including coronary artery disease, aortic dissection, and strokes.
Generally speaking, there are two major entities in the treatment of blood hypertension:
- Dietary and lifestyle modifications
- Pharmacological treatment
When implementing these two approaches, close monitoring of blood pressure is crucial to assess the effectiveness of any treatment and predict future complications.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about blood pressure monitors, including their mechanism of action, indications, market-leading brands, and general specifications.
History of Blood Pressure Monitors
The idea of estimating blood pressure originated in 1733, when Sir Stephen Hales experimented on a horse, using a brass pipe connected to a glass tube to measure the leg’s arterial blood pressure.
Around 1828, Jean Léonard Marie Poiseuille was the first to describe a mercury manometer for the measurement of arterial pressure, which was later improved upon by Carl Ludwig, who added real-time tracing of an arterial pressure wave with a kymograph.
However, obtaining blood pressure measurements noninvasively was not possible until 1855, when Vierodt introduced a new technique that requires obliterating an artery.
Following this concept, Riva-Rocci revolutionized the field of blood pressure measurement, which was then equipped with a wide inflatable arm cuff by von Recklinghausen in 1901.
Ever since then, companies and scientists keep improving the design of blood pressure monitors to obtain the most accurate real-time measurement that helps in clinical decision making.
For most of history, blood pressure monitors used to be manual, which means you have to inflate the cuff yourself; however, recent designs are automated, allowing patients to get accurate results with a click of a button.
How do these devices work?
To understand how blood pressure monitors work, we need to review some basic physiological concepts.
At the center of the cardiovascular system, we have the heart, which is a hollow, muscular structure that is composed of 4 chambers.
The main function of the heart is to deliver oxygen and nutrients to peripheral tissues by pushing blood into the larger vessels (e.g., aorta, carotid artery, brachial artery).
Once the blood is in those large vessels, it will travel down as the arteries get smaller in size until they reach microscopic levels, and that is where the vast majority of nutrient exchange occurs.
Due to the complex network of arteries that cover the entire body, the heart must push the blood using robust power generated by cardiac contraction.
When the heart contracts, the pressure in the blood vessels is referred to as systolic pressure, which is the first element of blood pressure that we measure.
During the relaxation phase, the intraluminal pressure declines, giving us the second element of a typical blood pressure measurement; this is also known as diastolic pressure.
Cuff monitors work by applying external pressure that is superior to systolic pressure on the brachial artery located in the arm.
Once the cuff is inflated, the blood inside the arm’s vessels stops since the external pressure exceeds systolic pressure, rendering the arteries unable to push against the external cuff.
The physician/nurse will then gradually lower the pressure by deflating the cuff until he/she hears a pulse in the brachial artery, which means that the pressure applied by the external cuff is now equal or less than systolic pressure.
The pressure on the monitor that coincides with the sound heard is the number we consider systolic pressure.
By deflating the cuff even further, the person measuring blood pressure will still hear the pulse, and once the sound disappears, we mark that as the diastolic blood pressure.
That, in a nutshell, is how blood pressure monitors work.
The indications of blood pressure monitors
The indications of blood pressure monitors are not numerous and mainly focus on:
Screening/diagnosis/follow-up of blood pressure
Chronic blood hypertension is a widespread medical condition that wreaks havoc on all organ systems, especially the heart and vessels.
This condition has several risk factors and complex pathophysiology that is constantly changing.
Fortunately, we can manage chronic hypertension with antihypertensive medications and blood pressure monitors.
Causes of chronic blood hypertension
Chronic blood hypertension is divided into two large categories:
- Primary hypertension – unknown cause (e.g., genetics, environmental factors)
- Secondary hypertension – induced by disease (e.g., renal disease, Cushing’s syndrome)
As you can deduce, secondary blood hypertension is treated by addressing the underlying condition that is triggering blood vessels to go haywire.
On the other hand, primary hypertension (90% of cases) is treated using pharmacological drugs and regular monitoring of blood pressure.
Symptoms of chronic blood hypertension
Chronic hypertension presents with a myriad of signs and symptoms that involve every organ system. Here is a shortlist of the possible symptoms you can expect:
- Vision problems
- Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
- Irregular heartbeat
- Blood in the urine
Over time, high blood pressure leads to the deterioration of different layers of blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart failure, hemorrhagic stroke, and aortic dissection.
Fortunately, if patients maintain healthy habits and take their medications as prescribed, the risk of complications is reduced.
Diagnosis of chronic blood hypertension
The diagnosis of blood hypertension is straight forward.
The doctor will measure your blood pressure on 2-3 separate occasions and to be diagnosed with this condition (1), the following results must be present:
- Systolic pressure above 140 mmHg
- Diastolic pressure above 90 mmHg
The contraindications of blood pressure monitors
Similar to other monitoring systems, there are a few contraindications to using cuff pressure monitors, which include:
Lymphatic swelling around the arm
Loss of sensation or paralysis of the arm
Arterial or venous lines (e.g., venous catheters)
A central catheter placed on the arm
Trauma or surgical-induced wound on the arm
Mastectomy (breast removal on the side of the arm that is tested)
Market-leading brands of monitoring systems
As the incidence and prevalence of chronic blood hypertension increase, so does the market of monitoring systems.
In 2017, the market for blood pressure monitors in North America alone reached more than 415 million dollars, and more than one billion dollars globally.
However, these numbers are expected to reach 2 billion dollars in 2025, which was estimated using complex economic and health algorithms that predict a rise in the incidence of blood hypertension, especially with the incredible epidemiological numbers when it comes to obesity.
The market is dominated by digital monitors that account for 64.3% of the global market share, followed by conventional sphygmomanometer and ambulatory monitors.
Here is a list of monitoring systems’ market leaders:
- American Diagnostic Corporation
- Welch Allyn
- Nihon Kohden Corporation
- GE Healthcare
- Smiths Group
- Masimo Corporation
- Omron Healthcare
By far, Omron Healthcare dominates the market, with yearly innovative designs, such as the recently released digital blood pressure monitor equipped with an EKG capability in one single device.
General specifications of blood pressure monitors
Due to the diversity of monitors, we chose to opt with Omron’s popular device to give you an idea about the general specifications.
Settings, controls, and indicators
100 results memory, 2 user memory
Batter level, body movement, irregular heartbeat
Dimensions and weight
Battery from factory
Required battery quantity
As the incidence of chronic blood pressure increases, the market for monitoring systems will inevitably accompany this trend.
These devices are crucial for the prompt diagnosis and treatment of patients, especially in hypertensive emergencies, where the patient’s life is on the line.
Many high reputable sources such as Forbes and Fortune Business Insights predict a steep rise in the market share of all medical equipment that is used to evaluate obesity-induced complications (e.g., blood hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease) in an attempt to fight these debilitating conditions.
Hopefully, you found this article informative and easy to read, and if you want more information about this topic, check out the references embedded above.