Many people are switching over to the company most hospitals use for their blood pressure equipment. If you have a Welch Allyn monitor at home like I do, you may be wondering, how to use a Welch Allyn Blood Pressure Cuff?
How To Use Use a Welch Allyn BP cuff:
- Place the cuff over the bare upper arm.
- The air tube should extend down over the hand.
- The lower edge of the cuff should be positioned approximately 1″ above the elbow bend.
- Line up the artery marker with the brachial artery on the inner arm.
- Adjust the cuff snug so two fingers only can be inserted between the cuff and arm.
- The index arrow should be pointing within the size range indicator line.
- Ensure the cuff is at heart height.
- Start the measurement.
This blog post will cover each one of the eight steps with further explanation. In addition, what you should do prior to the measurement to ensure the most accurate blood pressure measurement possible.
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How To Use A Welch Allyn Blood Pressure Cuff
1. Place the cuff over the bare upper arm.
Never place the cuff over clothing, even if it’s thin material. Studies have shown placing the cuff over clothing increases the blood pressure reading. The American College of Cardiology recommends people at home should wrap the blood pressure cuff over a bare arm.
In addition, they recommend a medical profession should remove any clothing covering the location of the blood pressure cuff placement 1.
The American Heart Association suggests visiting the doctor with short sleeves or roll up long sleeves when taking blood pressure. They state systolic pressure may increase by 50 mmHg depending on the thickness of the sleeve 2.
I did my own experiment at home with two different thickness shirts and made a YouTube Video about it shown below. I took blood pressure over my bare arm and then with each different shirt to see the difference in blood pressure. I used my Welch Allyn cuff.
For those who don’t want to watch the video, here are the results in the table below:
|Over Bare Arm||121/77|
|Over Thin Long Sleeve||136/77|
|Over Thick Long Sleeve||143/82|
How do I know so much about a Welch Allyn BP cuff? I own one and highly recommend it. Check out my blog post review here, Welch Allyn 1700 Home Blood Pressure Monitor Review.
2. Extend the air tubing down the arm over the hand.
3. Position of the BP Cuff
How To Use a Welch Allyn BP Cuff is one of 14 sections in my article about blood pressure cuffs. Learn more about BP cuffs, including how to apply them, errors made and sizes, here in the article, Blood Pressure Cuffs.
4. Lining Up The Artery Marker
The artery marker symbol on the Welch Allyn blood pressure cuff is labeled artery. The symbol is a small circle with a straight line drawn through the middle of the circle. The line through the circle should line up with the brachial artery on the upper arm.
The brachial artery runs down the inner part of your upper arm facing towards the side of the torso. It then crosses over the bend off your arm towards the top of the forearm. The brachial artery is what the nurse most often uses when drawing blood from your arm.
The reason why the artery marker needs to line up with the brachial artery is how the artery gets compressed. When the BP cuff inflates, it squeezes the upper arm and stops the flow of blood through the artery.
To cut off the blood flow efficiently, the middle of the air bladder inside the cuff should be as close to the brachial artery as possible. The artery marker helps accomplish that task.
5. Adjusting The Cuff Tightness.
Tighten the cuff enough, so it’s snug but not too tight. At the same time, it shouldn’t be too loose. When the cuff is at the correct tightness, you should be able to slip two fingers under the cuff, between the cuff and the arm. Any more or fewer fingers, the cuff needs to be readjusted.
If the cuff is too tight, your blood pressure measurement may be higher. I wrote a blog post about it, Blood Pressure Cuff Too Small. If you want to check it out and find out how much of a difference it can make. In addition, check out the table below.
|Cuff Too Small||10||2-8|
|Cuff Over Clothes||5-50||None|
|Talking or Active Listening||10||10|
|Full Urine Bladder||15||10|
|Smoking Within 30 Min.||6-20||None|
6. Check the Cuff for Correct Sizing.
The Welch Allyn cuff has an arrow on it labeled index. Many people think the arrow is supposed to point down your arm towards your hand, but it’s not. The index arrow is supposed to point up towards your shoulder.
The purpose of it is to check the size of the cuff and make sure it’s the correct size for your arm. The Welch Allyn cuff has a size range indicator line. If the cuff is the correct size, when it’s tightened and secured, the arrow will point somewhere on the line.
If the cuff is too small or big, the arrow will point somewhere before or after the size indicator line. If you need a different size cuff, luckily Welch Allyn has the widest size range cuffs available for the 1700 series.
The extra large cuff fits arms up to 21.25″ They also have a small cuff which fits upper arms from 5.75″ to 9.5″ They can both be ordered on Amazon here, 1700 series cuffs.
7. Keep The Blood Pressure Cuff at Heart Height.
The blood pressure cuff, Welch Allyn or not, must be at heart level when measuring your blood pressure. If the cuff is higher than the heart, the blood pressure measurement will be lower. If the cuff is lower than your heart, the measurement will be higher 5.
Therefore, how do you know if the cuff is at the same height as the heart? The cuff should be level with the right atrium chamber of the heart. The right atrium height is at the midpoint of your sternum.
The sternum starts at the top where the collar bones meet in the middle of the chest. It runs down the middle of the chest to where the lower ribcage turns up and meets.
Tips on Keeping Your Arm at Heart Level:
- While sitting in a chair, position your arm outwards from the body.
- Your elbow should be supported on a flat, comfortable surface.
- Check to see if the middle of the cuff is at the mid point of your sternum (right atrium).
- If not, adjust your upper arm.
- If it’s not possible then you’ll have to adjust either the height of your chair or the flat surface. If that’s unpossible, find a different chair or surface to use.
- Always make sure your elbow is supported after adjusting the height or your arm. If it’s not, your BP reading will be affected. Believe me it makes a difference!
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8. Start The Measurement.
The Welch Allyn Home monitors have one button start. Press the button and start the measurement.
In addition to the Welch Allyn cuff steps above, follow these guidelines 6 prior to starting the measurement:
- Rest 3-5 minutes prior to measuring blood pressure.
- While resting don’t text, talk, social media or watch TV.
- Sit in an upright chair.
- Keep feet flat on the floor and legs uncrossed.
- Keep back supported.
- Keep the elbow on a flat, comfortable surface.
- Don’t drink caffeine, smoke, exercise or eat 30 minutes prior to the measurement.
- Have an empty bladder.
Many people are in a rush and don’t follow the above steps, especially resting for five minutes 7. For accurate measurements these steps are crucial. Why bother taking a measurement if it’s going to be incorrect?
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Read Next – More BP Cuff Articles
- Hypertension: Measurement of Blood Pressure in Humans: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association
- American Heart Association: Are blood pressure measurement mistakes making you chronically ill?
- Welch Allyn: Home Blood Pressure Monitors
- Welch Allyn: Answer Center
- National Center for Biotechnology: Blood pressure measurement
- The American Heart Association: Don’t just get your BP taken; make sure it’s taken the right way
- The American Heart Association: Monitoring Your Blood Pressure at Home