The human body is a synchronized system of various organs, their functional orchestration and a feedback mechanism controlled by the brain. One of the vital organs - the heart works as a pump to push blood to different parts of the body to provide oxygen and food. Blood travels through a closed network of blood vessels - arteries and veins and puts pressure on their walls. This pressure is called "blood pressure" or simply BP. In simpler terms, it is the measure of the strength of your heart to meet the needs of the body.
What are the implications of high/low BP?
BP is considered to be one of the vital signs of good or bad health for the body and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). In a healthy body, it is considered that the highest pressure exerted by the heart, when it is pumping, should be 120 mmHg (systolic BP). Likewise, the lowest pressure when the heart rests between two heartbeats should be 80 mmHg (diastolic BP). When BP is consistently above or below these standards, it is high and low BP and is called "hypertension" and "hypotension", respectively. Both can occur for specific reasons, for example, low BP can be due to the sick state of the body. But, both can have serious implications like
Long-term: risk of stroke, kidney failure, heart attack and blindness.
Short-term: frequent headaches, dizziness, blurred vision and nosebleeds.
BP is affected by factors such as heredity, nutrition, stress, inappropriate sleep, extreme temperatures, and exercise. The most critical of these is the stiffness of the arteries with biological aging. One of the many degenerative things that happen in the body due to old age is the loss of elasticity in the main arteries. The heart has to work harder to pump blood, therefore, BP levels increase. Maintaining a healthy BP level is essential at all ages, especially in old age. Seniors can do the same by doing the following:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Healthy eating and social habits
- Gentle daily exercise
- Keep track of BP
What is actually a blood pressure monitor?
The device that is calibrated to measure BP is known as a sphygmomanometer or blood pressure monitor, and it includes of-
- An inflatable cuff to wrap around the arm, at a vertical height at the same level as the heart, to limit blood flow when wrapped around the arm.
- A mercury or mechanical pressure gauge with a vertical glass column containing mercury or a gauge respectively.
- A rubber ball connected to the cuff with a hose to inflate the cuff.
To measure BP, and There two types -
Manual and digital BP monitors.
The manual ones can be further bifurcated as mercury and aneroid depending on the presence or absence of the mercury column.
Auscultatory method: This method uses Korotkoff sounds to identify systolic and diastolic BP. The cuff wrapped around the upper arm clogs the artery. A stethoscope is placed on the brachial artery at the elbow to listen for a hammering noise when the air pressure is slowly released. It is caused by the highest pressure when blood begins to flow for the first time after it is blocked. The air pressure is released until the squeak is no longer heard. It is noted as diastolic BP.
Oscillometric method: The process is the same, but the only difference is that there is no listening device, like the stethoscope, and the method is based on measuring the oscillations caused by the pulse of blood pressure . When blood begins to flow through the vessels, they produce oscillations and continue until the blood flow is normalized. The oscillations are measured and calculated to arrive at the SBP and the DBP.
Why seniors need a home BP monitor?
With age, the arteries wear out and they tend to become stiff and block the blood circulation. Even with a healthy elderly person, these conditions can occur silently because no symptoms appear. The best way to monitor for this possibility is to keep a periodic BP log at home. Seniors can keep a BP monitor at home to measure BP, which will help them in several ways:
- They do not need to see the doctor frequently.
- BP home monitors are easy to operate without training.
- They feel confident and satisfied, which adds to their positive and healthy lifestyle.
- It is essential to take medication, as sudden changes can occur, especially if they are taking BP-reducing medications.
- Keeping track of BP or keeping a log is easy when you have a BP monitor at home.
- It is easy to consult a doctor from a distance because he can prescribe better.
What are the different types of home monitors?
On the basis of the principles they use, the classification is done in manual and digital or automatic.
Manual: uses the auscultation principle and includes the inflatable cuff, the mercury filling the vertical container and the rubber balloon inflating the air. The air pressure in the inflated cuff is slowly released and with the stethoscope, thrilling sounds are noticed. With the release of atmospheric pressure, the mercury in the drops of the tube and the readings for SBP and DBP are noted. Qualified doctors use them with precision, even in high-risk patients. They are also called "mercury sphygmomanometer".
Aneroid sphygmomanometer: has a gauge to measure SBP and DBP.
Automatic: The principle behind automatic or digital BP monitors is called the oscillometric method. It has an inflatable cuff, which can be inflated manually or automatically using a battery-operated device. They are electronic devices that are easy to use, portable and recommended for regular users. You don't need the training to use them.
Connected and application-based monitors: These are hose-less or cordless devices with a compact design and using advanced mobile application technology. They have an armband, connected to the Bluetooth of a smartphone. Patients can download the app associated with the device and the cuff automatically measures SBP and DBP once it is activated by the mobile app. They are precise and clinically validated, simple to configure, easy to use, extremely portable, light and can display a range of evaluated data. They store huge data that can be interpreted in graphs, charts and can also be shared with doctors via email.
Factors to consider when purchasing a BP monitor
The need for a BP monitor at home arises for the following:
- Patients on BP, to monitor the effectiveness of the drug.
- Patients with critical heart conditions like coronary heart disease, diabetes or any other kidney disease,
- Pregnant women,
- Patients who require close monitoring of BP, and
- Old people.
Therefore, it is just not as simple to buy a BP monitor. You should consider the following when doing this:
- Upper cuff vs wrist support: Wrist monitors, while compact and lightweight, are not as accurate as upper cuffs.
- Cuff size: a smaller cuff means high pressure and a larger means of low pressure, which results in inaccurate BP measurements.
- Display: The display should be easy to read and understand, and the user buttons should be large.
- Adjustable inflation level: in any automatic monitor, the cuff is inflated to a level that may be uncomfortable for some. The presence of an adjustable inflation key can reduce the overpressure because it allows programming.
- Memory: data storage function with one to several interfaces. Connected and app-based monitors can even be shared with your doctors via email; data sharing in tables and graphs is also possible.
- AC adapter: digital monitors generally operate on battery, but few have the additional possibility of operating on AC.
- Irregular heart rate display: Few people can report or alert to irregular heart rate measurements.
Hypertension indicator: the presence of an indicator highlighting or flashing an alert on hypertensive measures.
Ease of use: easy configuration, faster understanding and readable display are basic factors to keep in mind when making your purchase.
Features you need: Among a plethora of features, you need to check and decide which one fits your specific needs.
Cost: Depending on your budget, finalize your choice. The cost of some brands for review is as follows:
After the purchase Once you have made the purchase and taken the first reading yourself, do the same cross-checking by visiting your doctor. Ask your doctor to take the reading using a manual sphygmomanometer. Share your readings so that the accuracy of your monitor can be determined. In case of variation, consult the user manual to recalibrate your BP monitor. Top-rated brands in the Indian market There are hundreds of brands and models available for BP monitors in India.
Here is a list of some of the best BP monitors available in India. Take a look at them: -
Contec Ambulatory BP Monitor ABPM 50 is a hand-held ambulatory blood pressure monitor is designed according to the theory of oscillography. This device could monitor the human body's blood pressure up to 24 hours continuously and dynamically, providing an accurate basis for diagnosis. It is applicable for use in a hospital, clinic and other medical institutions
Yuwell Digital BP Monitor (Model-YE68OA) is Intelligent pressurized with Large LCD display, IHB Indication, Detection for cuff wearing, Indication for wrong operation, Blood pressure range display and Clock display
Yuwell Digital BP Monitor Hospital Model (YE 68OE has Large backlit LCD display, Ultra-quiet With the adapter and it is Portable Double measuring methods, Anti-collision and waterproof, Optional SML cuff size, 100000 times of measurements