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Blood Pressure Monitors in general

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      24.07.2002 22:47
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      Blood pressure is important - too high or low and there are health implications. An incorrect measurement can cause you a lot of trouble though. I'll be back to this with the bitter fruits of recent expereince. Blood pressure - what is it? simply the force with which your heart pumps your blood around your body. There are two figures that medical persons will measure, pertaining to different aspects of said pressure, based on which they can tell you if you have a problem. Low blood pressure - when you aren't pumping very hard. Symptoms - light headedness and feeling faint. Consequences - fainting, not getting enough resources round your body, worse circulation, risks for baby if you are pregnant. Causes - diet, thin blood (some people are just prone to it.) cold weather, weakness in the organ, spending too long being inactive. High blood pressure - when your heart is pumping very hard indeed. Symptoms (you don't always get them though.) Headaches, short temper, sleeplesness, nosebleeds. Consequences - organ damage, strokes, premature birth of baby, heart disease. Causes - lack of physical fitness, clogged arteries, being pregnant, too much salt in diet, stress, hot weather, dehydration. Blood pressure is largely a thing that needs monitoring in relation to other issues - certain conditions, levels of activity, etc will affect your blood pressure or are vulnerable to changes in your blood pressure. It is both an indicator of problems and a cause of problems, so it is important. Getting the right reading: You should be at rest, and ideally should have been at rest for 15 minutes. If you have just run up the stairs, are having a contraction, a panic attack or anything else that might unduly influence your reading, you need to inform whoever is testing you. If you are on medication that might raise or lower your blood pressure, again you need to mention this. Blood pressure is measured by putting a cuff around your upper arm to reduce blood flow, and allow a medic to hear what your heart is doing and to establish how high your blood pressure is in relation to the pressure being put on your arm. There are electrical devices that will do this as well, but manual ones seem more common. If you are going to get a fair reading, the cuff size is vital. If you have large arms, either muscular or fatty, you need a bigger cuff. If the cuff pinches when it first goes on (before it is inflated) say so, and suggest that a bigger cuff would be better. A small cuff exerts more pressure on the arm than the medic will think is being exerted, and thus givde you a reading for much higher blood pressure than youa ctually have. I have recent expereince of this - a test taken last monday gave me blood pressure of something over 110. The on friday, two tests using different cuff sizes gave a difference between 130/120 and 120/88 - the first reading should have meant I was in a dangerously bad way, and was taken with too small a cuff, the second, taken with a large cuff is much more likely to be accurate as it was much closer to my normal blood pressure readings (I've had a lot of these lately. Getting the right blood pressure reading is vital, and if you are mistakenly measured inacurately, there can be all sorts of consequences. For me, the dubious reading resulted in a night in hospital, countless tests and the threat of needing to have my baby induced (none of which, I might add, are conducive to having low blood pressure.)It took a week to establish that the first dubious reading was at worst an anomoly, and while several doctors and midwives have said that the high reading could have been an error, it may still have cost me the support I wanted to have a home birth. Had it not been for the ludicrous reading on the friday, I might never have known what was happening and might have spent the rest of my pregnancy being treated like a high risk case and having to g o into hospital for checks every couple of days. No one is infalliable, so it is well worth being informed.

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        02.03.2002 15:48
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        When I was diagnosed with hypertension (that’s technical for high pressure), It was another yet health worry to cope with! I was placed on the tablet ‘lisinopril’ which had some really unwanted side effects (see review on it). In fact it was enough to send you BP sky high! Having a family history of hypertension related illnesses it was of some concern, though not majorly. Normal Pressure is rated at around 120/80 - mine was around 140/90 (and above): Not that high I thought, and in fact according to the leaflet in this package it is acceptable as normal according to the World Health Organisation! But the very fact that I am diabetic was enough for concern, (as Pressure in a diabetic is generally required to be lower) and a prescription for ‘Lisinopril’ was issued. Anyway, not being totally convinced I needed this medication, and the fact that I was scared witless to begin taking it, I invested in a Pressure monitor. Okay it set me back nearly £80 (bar 5p). But hey, if it meant I didn’t need this extra tablet it was worth the outlay. I had white coat syndrome and now I had to prove it! The meter ~~~~~~~~~~ Meters come in various shapes and forms, and probably complexities. However my one was simple (you know me not technical at all). I bought my meter online from www.p2u.co.uk and as stated I paid almost £80. The small box it came in contained just the monitor and an instruction leaflet/BP recording form. The meter is attached to a small cuff, which secures around the wrist. How to use ~~~~~~~~~~~ Simply place the cuff around your wrist and fix in place with the Velcro. Next switch the meter on, a simple operation consisting of the press of one of the two buttons. When the little heart is beating on an otherwise clear screen, you know it’s time to take your Pressure. This is a major technical errand, and involves pressing the second of the two bu ttons. Readings ~~~~~~~~~ Results are displayed on the screen and easy to read and understand language i.e.120/80. Record the readings as they could save you a pill! Extra ~~~~~~ The meter also takes your pulse. (Something, that I personally haven’t paid much attention to so far). Results and Overall ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My home reading were in fact a lot lower, in fact I had only a few high readings. Armed with this evidence I paid a visit to my GP, and explained the situation. I persuaded him to take me off the tablets (which I had started taking). Success- I was a victim of white coat syndrome! Overall this meter/monitor is a great little machine that gives accurate readings in a short while. If you have any suspicions about hypertension or worries then next to a visit to your doctor this little machine will prove extremely helpful (providing you have a spare £80 that is). However, my advice is to get your BP checked by someone medical, before thinking about buying a monitor in any shape or form. It is small enough to hide away, but not so small as to fit in a handbag or pocket (if you wish to take it anywhere). The leaflet I got with the company recommends that you home test your Pressure twice a day, which-I-admit- I stuck to religiously in the first instance. Now however I am happily off the pills, I take it far less regularly, although still enough to keep the medics happy at my check ups! Please remember that I am not medically trained, and this is my opinion only. Should you have any health problems see your GP! Thanks-Dave

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          25.10.2001 04:06
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          In this day and age we all need to take care of our bodies. Exercise and a healthy diet are key factors in ensuring that we maintain our good health. However, how are we supposed to know if the effects of our sensible balanced diets and exercise regimes are having the intended effect? One method to keep tabs on your health is to invest in a blood pressure monitor. Although it may sound like just another gadget it could very well end up proving to be invaluable. A good buy is the Braun BP 2510 blood pressure monitor. I don't have one myself, although my mother purchased one about two years ago from a mail order catalogue as she has suffered from high blood pressure in the past. This item is particualrly useful for anyone that has been diagnosed with high (or low) blood pressure, although it can be also be useful for just about anybody - me included. Just think about it - when you visit your doctor for a medical you will nearly always have your blood pressure taken. This enables the doctor to see if there is a problem. It is often difficult, nay impossible, to detect abnormal blood pressure by external appearance, but by having a blood pressure monitor you can check yourself as often as you like. The monitor is very simple to use. Simply sit relaxed in a chair and turn over one of your wrists so that the palm of the hand faces upwards. You will probably find it easier to use your right arm if you are right-handed, or vice-versa. Put the monitor onto your wrist and attach the velcro strap underneath. You should ensure that your hand remains loose and is slightly open, as well as keeping it at approximately the same level as your heart. You should then press the red 'On' switch, followed by the grey 'Start' switch. The cuff then inflates, and within about twenty or thirty seconds you will have a blood pressure reading as well as a heart rate reading (in beats per minute.) Readings will vary at different times of th e day, so it is best to try a few times if you obtain a reading that looks strange. The advantage of being able to use this device in the home is that it avoids what is known as the "White Coat Effect." We naturally tend to be more tense when we visit a doctor's surgery or a hospital, and this can sometimes result in higher readings than would otherwise be the case. This device means that this factor is no longer a problem. The blood pressure reading is two-fold. Firstly the top number represents the systolic blood pressure, which should not exceed 140 mmHg (= pressure in millimetres of mercury.) The lower of the two numbers, the diastolic blood pressure, should not exceed 90 mmHg. Figures in excess of these measurements are an indication of high blood pressure. High blood pressure can have adverse effects on blood vessels and eventually the heart itself, so it is best if it can be caught early and dealt with appropriately. There is a memory function to record the last half dozen or so readings, and the display is particularly easy to read. It is also very easy to use on your own - unlike the contraptions that your doctor normally uses on you. I would heartily recommend this item to anyone, particularly the elderly or those with a history of blood pressure in the family. It's never too late to take care of your body, and this is just another way to ensure that you are on the right track. [PS: I was going to write an additional 40% about this product but due to market pressure and increased usage of my time it has been necessary to reduce my word count accordingly. I apologise for the short notice of this announcement and hope you continue to enjoy reading my opinions!] {An original (and occasionally satirical) Dooyoo opinion © Blackjane 2001}

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            22.09.2001 01:43
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            We're all so clued up about medical matters nowadays aren't we? We all devour the health pages in our favourite magazines, some of us even buy the magazines where every page is related to health and fitness. So when we worry that something isn't going quite as perfectly as we would like it's very natural to put our new knowledge into play. Go to any chemist and part with fifty to a hundred pounds and you'll get a nifty little gadget with a diary and a special case to keep it in so that you can monitor your blood pressure at home without the need to bother the doctor. Good idea, innit? Blood pressure is the pressure exerted on the walls of the blood vessels by the blood as it circulates, everyone has a blood pressure, even dead people have one, not much of one but they've got one (obviously their blood isn't circulating but it exerts a pressure just by sitting there). It is related to the total circulating volume and the total resistance it encounters from the blood vessels. The blood pressure is greatest during ventricular systole (systolic pressure) this is when the heart is pumping the blood out of its large chambers and lowest during diastole (diastolic) when the heart is relaxed. The pressure is recorded as a systolic/diastolic and a normal blood pressure is something in the region of 120/60 mmHg. So you're worried about your blood pressure? Daddy died of a stroke, Mummy has angina, you like a fag now and then and drink a bit too much. Maybe you've been reading the medical pages in the Sunday Times mag. You look for the signs, runny nose? Headache? Green spots on the tongue? Shivering? Seeing little green fairies? Actually most people with high blood pressure have no signs and symptoms at all. So you go to the quack and have it taken, you dash all the way there and sit, tensely in the waiting room having exchanged a few unpleasantries with the gargoyle at the front desk. When he comes to take your blood pressure he in forms you that it is 160/80 and that you should come back next week and have it checked again. Well blood pressure is extremely variable, lots of things change it and the mad dash to the surgery, the confontation with the receptionist, the frustrating waiting around and the sheer nervousness a lot of people feel on visiting the doctor will all have conspired to send your blood pressure sky high. So all is not yet lost. I might add that coronary heart disease is one of this country's biggest causes of mortality, the doctor might tell you this as well as he makes illegible notes in his special code before prescribing you something that you will take to make you wee. You will spend the rest of the week feeling thirsty and constantly licking your lips between desperate attempts to find public loos. Understandably worried, you cut all the fat out of your diet so that you are existing on those funny polystyrene rice cake thingies. You join a gym and go to Mark's and Spencer's to get a tracksuit. You think of buying a blood pressure machine, just to keep an eye on it. Now you are taking your blood pressure with your machine (which cost you over fifty pounds). You take it in the morning, at lunch and before bed. One day you get a high reading. What do you do? What conclucions do you draw? So you take it again. This time the reading is low. Are you worried yet? You should be. You have obviously bought a very unreliable machine. Many nurses use automatic devices to check blood pressure in the hospital, theirs are expensive devices, calibrated regularly and designed for accuracy and consistency of results. Despite this expense and painstaking design the nurses, in their wisdom will manually check an abnormal reading because they have learned through experience that these machines commonly let you down. The one you have bought from the local chemist is not likely to give a totally accurate reading, nor is it likely to be very consistent in the qu ality of results. So you should be worried, because you have spent a hundred pounds on an unreliable bit of electronics which gives you misleading readings. What would you do if you got a couple of high reading, would you take extra medicine? Book yourself in for a check up and wait two weeks for the appointment? Do you phone an ambulance? The fact is that unless you are a doctor you're probably not going to know what to do and in truth none of these courses of action would be right or wrong because you are acting on the assumption that the readings are correct and we know how unreliable the device is don't we? Besides all that, if you are over fifty it is almost "normal" to have an "abnormal" blood pressure. As a nurse I am glad when patients show an interest in their treatment and take charge of their own health but my advice to you is to take the money you were thinking of ploughing into this comparatively useless purchase and buy a gym pass. Your heart will thank you for it and you'll sleep easily in the knowledge that you're doing all you can to keep yourself healthy rather than worrying over what that last reading meant.

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              06.11.2000 01:38
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              Blood pressure is the pressure exerted on the walls of the arteries by the contraction and relaxation of the heart. This is a basic procedure that student nurses are taught early on in training, to develop further on the hospital wards and in the community. Anybody can be shown how to take blood pressure, but the skill for nurses is the rationale behind it - the methods, why blood pressure is monitored and what the readings may mean. Today hospitals own electronic machines that can measure blood pressure and heart rate at the push of a button, which can be very convenient and time-efficient as will that we have to do is mark on a chart the machines findings. However, in the community and on busy wards nurses still rely on the traditional sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. The Sphyg measures blood pressure in millimetres of mercury or mmtlg, and is expressed as Systolic. Diastolic Systolic pressure is the higher pressure caused by the beat of the heart, when the ventricles are contracting and pressure is lowest when the ventricles are relaxing and re-filling (with blood) which is diastolic pressure. Many factors influence blood pressure. The patients age, weight, medication, health, anxiety and posture all have be taken into account. This is because of the many side effects that can occur after surgery and general anaesthetic, for example haemorrhaging. At this, point one may think that something could be done by the everyday person, that could relieve the doctors and nurses visits, something that a could help a person of out any anxiety they have about their blood pressure. This is the unit to do so and is readily available from most larger boots and is thoroughly recommended.

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