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The mercury sphygmomanometer is the most common piece of blood pressure equipment you are likely to see. Certainly when you walk in to your doctor’s surgery it is usually a feature, and a standard piece of equipment which is taken out at what seems like every opportunity…
The concern that most doctors have about high blood pressure in their patients is understandable. The numbers of cases of people with high blood pressure is on the rise, with the blame being put squarely on our westernized lifestyles of low activity, a diet rich in sodium, high in fat and processed foods, and busy stressful schedules.
Although the incidence of high blood pressure diagnosed on the increase, there are many people who are not diagnosed, as there are few symptoms to show that a person has high blood pressure unless it becomes chronic. This is why it is called the “silent killer”
So, this is why a doctor will take blood pressure of a patient, it seems at any given opportunity, as this is currently the best way of telling if someone has high blood pressure.
If high blood pressure is spotted there are some effective steps that need to be taken to lower blood pressure as soon as possible, as it is the elevated blood pressure that can cause damage to arteries and major organs.
The mercury sphygmomanometer is slowly being replaced by automated equipment, but it is still used by many physicians because it is durable, easy to read and in most cases will not need any readjustment even if it has been used for years. It relies on gravity to ensure that it provides the user with a consistent and accurate reading at all times.
They have a long tubular gauge, which is often made from either glass or plastic, which contains mercury. Generally, this type of equipment is not recommended for home use, as it can be bulky and if the mercury leaks it can be a hazard. However there are some versions which have been especially designed for home use, which are both lightweight and relatively safe.
Most models use a D cuff and a separate stethoscope to help in the reading process. However the models that are used at home generally come with a D cuff that has a stethoscope attached to it so that it is convenient for a person to use themselves and so they will be able to take their own blood pressure reading.
There are some disadvantages to using a home mercury sphygmomanometer. The first being is that they can be bulky to carry, there is padding to ensure that it can survive a few gentle knocks, but this can make it harder to transport. Also, when travelling abroad there may be the need to declare that toxic substances are being transported.
You will also need it to be a position that you can read it easily (eye level is best) to ensure that the reading you take is accurate.
Plus, unfortunately, because of its design the mercury may not work as well for those people who have either a visual or hearing impediment. It is also not the right kind of equipment to be used by people who can not carry out the hand movement required to squeeze the bulb to inflate the D cuff. In this case an automatic machine that has a built in pump would be a better option.
If you are intent on having some form of blood pressure equipment at home, then consider an automated machine. They have shown to require less manual manipulation and can include functions to make reading blood pressure easier like automatic inflation and a digital read out.
For more details on automated blood pressure monitors go here:
Automatic Blood Pressure Monitors
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