Most people I know that is monitoring their blood pressure at home don’t have a need for a stethoscope. I think the majority of people are buying an automatic blood pressure machine which doesn’t use or require a stethoscope. If that’s what you’re looking for you can check out my blog post on home monitors right here. Some people prefer using a sphygmomanometer which requires a stethoscope.
For those of you who are unsure what a sphygmomanometer is, it’s a manual blood pressure cuff that wraps around your upper arm. Attached to the cuff is an inflator bulb and a pressure gauge dial with numbers. It requires the use of a stethoscope to listen to the blood flow through your artery to record your blood pressure. Some sphygmomanometers come as a kit with a stethoscope included and some don’t.
I have found most sphygmomanometers sold on sites like Amazon, come with an inferior stethoscope. Many of the reviews I’ve read complain about the stethoscope that was included. You’d be better buying one without a stethoscope and purchasing a stethoscope separately. In addition, the kits usually cost more money because you’re paying for a stethoscope you might eventually replace anyway. The sphygmomanometer I recommend doesn’t come with a stethoscope.
After considering the abundance of stethoscopes available, I decided to buy an ADC Adscope 602 (click for the current price on Amazon) – Compare Price on Ebay. For me, it’s the perfect balance of quality and price. It’s a tradition style and a classic in every way. More reasons why I chose the ADC Adscope 602:
- The stethoscope is made of stainless steel. Although this makes it slightly heavier, it’s for home use and you won’t be carrying it around with you all day.
- The chest piece has a nice design and includes a highly sensitive diaphragm on one side and a deeper open bell on the other side.
- The eartips provide a good seal and are comfortable. The stethoscope comes with 2 additional sets of eartips.
- It includes a lifetime guarantee for free replacement of parts.
- It’s made by ADC (American Diagnostic Corporation) who’s based in the United States. They are one of the world’s premier manufacturers of medical products and have been in business for 35 years.
The most important takeaway from this blog post, I believe, is I strongly advise you not to purchase a sub $50 stethoscope. I’ve bought and tested cheaper stethoscopes trying to save a buck and they aren’t very good. Their durability is not as good and won’t last as long.
In addition, there’s no need to spend much more than what the ADC Adscope 602 costs. If your main purpose is to use a stethoscope for taking blood pressure or general use, the level of acoustic performance need not be as high. This makes the ADC Adscope 602 ideal for blood pressure and home use, check it out on Amazon right here Or on eBay.
Fun fact: In a study carried out in 2012, patients perceived doctors as more trustworthy and better if they were wearing a stethoscope around their neck.
How To Take Blood Pressure With A Sphygmomanometer
Taking your blood pressure with a sphygmomanometer is preferred by some over an automatic home monitor. It’s more reliable to give an accurate reading, but it does take some practice to get it right. In addition, if you are hearing or visually impaired, you probably won’t be able to do it because it involves listening through the stethoscope and reading the gauge. The following steps are how to use a sphygmomanometer.
- First, place the cuff around your upper arm about 1 inch above the bend of your elbow. Make the cuff tight enough so you can slip 2 fingertips under the cuff edge.
- Put the stethoscope around your neck and ready to go.
- Place the gauge into a position that makes it easy to read.
- Put the eartips of the stethoscope into your ears and place the stethoscope bell over your brachial artery. Tuck the bell partially under the cuff keeping it over your artery.
- Tighten the valve on the side of the bulb and squeeze it rapidly several times to quickly inflate the cuff. Continue inflating the cuff until the gauge gets to about 20-30 points above your last reading.
- Open the valve slowly to release air from the cuff at a rate of about 2 mm. (lines on the dial) per second.
- You are going to hear a sound, note the number when you first hear it and the number when the sound stops. Record both numbers. The first number is your systolic blood pressure and the 2nd number is your diastolic BP (lower number).
Tips For Home Blood Pressure Monitoring
The latest blood pressure guidelines are recommending home monitoring for blood pressure. In addition, doctors are jumping on board for their patients, especially ones with high blood pressure. If you don’t have a doctor or health insurance, I wrote a blog post on a health plan service that can recommend affordable plans right for you. You can check it out right here. The proper technique and following these steps are crucial for accurate blood pressure readings.
- Choose the right size cuff when purchasing a home monitor. If the cuff is too small or big, the readings will not be accurate.
- Within thirty minutes of taking your blood pressure do not smoke, exercise or drink caffeine.
- Empty your bladder ahead of time and have five minutes of quiet time before taking your reading.
- Wrap the cuff around a bare upper arm and not over clothing.
- Sit in an upright chair, back straight, feet flat on the floor and not crossed.
- Support your upper arm and keep it at heart level.
- The cuff should be about 1 inch above the bend of your elbow.
- Take 2 or 3 readings about one minute apart and record all your results.
- Take your blood pressure the same time everyday and under the same conditions.
Check out my other recommended blood pressure products that may help you: