The proper sizing of a blood pressure cuff or how it’s wrapped around the arm can drastically change blood pressure measurements. You may have wondered if wrapping the cuff too tight makes a difference. Therefore, let’s answer the question, can a blood pressure cuff be too tight?
A blood pressure cuff is too tight if only one finger or less can be slipped between the cuff and the upper arm. A cuff secured too tight is caused using a cuff sized too small or a properly sized cuff pulled too tight. A cuff wrapped too tight can cause the BP measurement to be inaccurate.
Depending on the cause of the cuff being too tight, blood pressure measurements may be inaccurately high or low. This article will explain how each one of those false readings can occur. More importantly, I’ll inform you how to prevent it from happening.
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A Blood Pressure Cuff Too Tight
A blood pressure cuff can be too tight for two reasons:
- A correctly sized cuff was pulled too tight around the upper arm and secured.
- A cuff too small was pulled around the arm tightly because it is not long enough for the size of the upper arm.
Let’s tackle each one of these reasons and explain what happens in each situation.
A Correctly Sized Cuff Secured Too Tight
Assuming you have the proper sized cuff for your upper arm, it’s possible to secure it too tight or loose 1. The standard way to check if a cuff is secured properly is to slip your index and middle fingers under the lower edge of the cuff (between the cuff and the upper arm).
Therefore, let’s answer the question, how tight should a blood pressure cuff get?
Only two fingers should be able to fit snugly between the cuff and the upper arm. If more than two fingers fit underneath the cuff, then it is too loose. If only one or no fingers can fit snugly underneath the cuff, it’s too tight.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The effect of cuff size on blood pressure measurement in adults