Product Type: Omron health products
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A blood pressure monitor you can trust
Omron MX2 Digital Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor
Member Name: yabbadabbadoo
Omron MX2 Digital Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor
Date: 06/04/10, updated on 11/02/11 (299 review reads)
Advantages: Easy to use, accurate, reliable, inexpensive
Disadvantages: Takes a bit of adjustment
Blood pressure is at its highest when the heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When the heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is the diastolic pressure.
Blood pressure is always given as these two numbers, the systolic and diastolic pressures.
Three separate readings taken at my local surgery within the space of a month read 196/100, 188/100 and 180/100.
The acceptable / normal range in contrast is 120-140/80, so the potential implications in terms of risk factor for coronary, stroke or other life-threatening occurences were very scary.
If such severe hypertension was to continue, I would most likely have to be put on drugs for the rest of my life in order to be able to get the pressure within acceptable levels. I knew this was crunch time.
Fortunately because of my age, and with no previous record of high blood pressure, my GP was prepared to give me the opportunity to measure and monitor my blood pressure at home for a period of weeks. The stress of having the reading taken by the doctor can itself can also be a factor, commonly known as "white coat" syndrome. Also blood pressure does go up and down during the day, being at it's lowest while you are sleeping and can go up shortly after exercise or periods of excitement or stress.
Rather than recommend any particularly elaborate models, he suggested I look for something around the £20-50 mark for a home testing device.
After a bit of online research, the name Omron kept coming up over and over again, and I read some positive reviews over at Amazon.co.uk on the MX2 Digital Upper arm model. I think mine cost around £29.99.
~~~~Cuff size matters~~~~
The first thing to note, is that the standard model comes with a cuff size of between 22 and 32cm circumference. Not that I'm claiming to be Popeye you understand, but as a larger build sort of a chap, I got my good lady to measure my bicep and it actually came in at 37cm.
A bit of reading into the subject showed that in some instances, using a cuff size that was too small could artificially inflate the readings by as much as 10%. Fortunately Omcron do supply a compatible larger cuff size so I ordered the large 32-42cm range version at the same time.
~~~~Getting to grips with it~~~~
Now I'm going to come straight out and say that when it comes to pretty much all things medical , frankly I'm about as squeamish as it gets. The idea of me, taking my own readings 2-3 times a day, wasn't exactly filling me with a great feeling of comfort.
Fortunately my wife is a much sturdier soul on these matters, so she agreed to help me get things set up and take the initial readings.
It's actually very straight forward to use. Basically insert the battery, attach the grey piping cable to the unit, put hand through the cuff, and slide it up to just above the elbow. Adjust the strap, feeding through the metal clip, and attach the velcro to seal it. The important thing is that it's nice and loose, without sliding right off, and to keep the forearm flat on the table, palm facing upwards so that the centre of the pipe is aligned with the centre of your palm.
Once you are ready to go, simply press the dark blue button, to reset the dial and then the light blue button to automatically start the process.
All that sounds straight forward, but see from the point of view of a first time user of a nervous disposition it's slightly different.
Basically, the noise of the pump fires up, the dial starts to gradually clock upwards from 10 to 20 etc as the pressure starts to build around your arm. The default target is 170, which is generally the point at which a reading can be taken.
What happens is at 170, it drops down, and you get a strong pulsing sensation as it tries to collect the reading. If you are fidgeting around all over the place like I was, it's only made worse by the fact that the figures drop to around 135, and if nothing is picked up , the cuff tightens further up to around 210 of pressure. By this point you feel a pins and needles sensation in the arm - again , not the best for settling the nerves.
It didn't help that after all that, the reading errored completely first time out - something had gone wrong with the set up. You have to wait a few minutes to let everything reset, during which time my wife suggested in the nicest possible way that wriggling about like a flailing salmon as the reading was being taken might not be the best way to guarantee a positive result.
Her advice duly noted, I settled down for take two. The relief of it being over was greatly enhanced when I managed to open my eyes again to take in the results. 150/85 - a hugely significant drop from the surgery readings.
~~~~Getting the routine~~~~
That 150/85 was an early morning reading, so naturally the evening numbers tended to be higher, but still nothing was coming up above 160 and 90.
Buoyed on by that major breakthrough, and continuing diet and health improvements that could only help send the numbers lower, after the next couple of readings were extracted (one mistake we made early on was tightening a little too much , I actually ended up with a bruise and a slight cut on one arm), I came to the conclusion that the only way to get over my issues was to face them head on and do the tests myself.
Naturally adjusting the cuff yourself is much easier to judge, and also sitting there alone in the room with no other distractions made it easier to focus on what needed to be done. I found some deep breathing just beforehand really helped keep the numbers down, and before long , the second retightening thing wasn't required any more. I was relaxed enough to get the readings right first time.
The kit comes with a handy chart you can easily fill out to chart daily progress, and I just took the output and stuck it into excel and produced graphs and averages to show to my doctor after the 3 weeks was up. The averages were around 145/85, and he was naturally delighted with the results. When he remeasured my BP , this time using a larger cuff size himself, it came in at 164/92 which given the clear evidence of my fear of the white coat situation was perfectly acceptable to him.
I still use the Omron to keep an eye on things maybe a couple of times a week. One other bonus is that it also measures your resting heart beat, which can in itself be a good indicator of fitness levels - mine's got below 50 now which apparently makes me an athlete -I can dream I guess!
~~~~Get it checked!~~~~
The one thing the experience has taught me is to never take basic health for granted. I really had no idea that my BP was running so high (artifically inflated or not , figures were still definitely high normal until I started losing the weight / exercising) and I wish I'd got things checked out much sooner.
Especially if you are working in a stressful job, carrying extra weight, heading towards your 40s or have any history in your family of cardio related conditions I would urge you to get your BP checked at least once a year.
Who knows, it just might save your life.
All proceeds received from ratings of this and my other reviews will go directly to charity. Thank you for reading.
Summary: Get it checked!
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