Friday, October 13, 2006

Blood Pressure Monitor

A blood pressure monitor is a good thing to have on hand, especially if you know that you suffer from high blood pressure, or have a family history of heart disease. Because blood pressure is an excellent indication of how your heart is performing, and how much stress it might be under, your blood pressure is a vital piece of information in determining your overall health. Indeed, along with your heart rate, your blood pressure numbers are often referred to as your ‘vitals’. One of the first things most doctors or nurses will do when they see you in a treatment environment is to measure your vitals with a blood pressure monitor.
I worked at a residential drug and alcohol treatment center for over a year, and during my time there I became very familiar with the use of blood pressure monitors. The old school and more traditional blood pressure monitors that you usually see your doctor use are called sphygmomanometers. This is the typical cuff thing that they Velcro onto your arm, and then pump up by hand. It has a pressure gauge attached, and requires careful watching to accurately determine your blood pressure. These traditional blood pressure monitors are usually used in conjunction with a stethoscope to give a reading of your heart rate as well. That means taking vitals the old school way is a very active process and requires some amount of training.
Fortunately, there are newer and easier to use blood pressure monitors available today. Today you can purchase electronic sphygmomanometers that are programmed to basically do everything for you. All you need to learn how to do is properly attach the cuff to the subject’s arm, which is easier than tying your shoes. Then with the push of a button, the blood pressure machine does the rest. It even records your heart rate, and displays it along with your blood pressure in a little LCD display. All you have to do is wait for it to finish.
Needless to say, these automatic blood pressure monitors made my life a lot easier when I was working at the treatment center. Anyone that works in a medical environment that doesn’t have the training nurses and doctors have gotten in the use of a regular sphygmomanometer will certainly appreciate having an automatic blood pressure monitor on hand.
Since my time at the treatment center, I have purchased my own electronic blood pressure monitor. It’s a nice tool to have on hand to accurately gauge any stress your heart may be under if you think you may be having heart trouble.