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  #1  
Old 04-18-2004, 09:26 PM
dreamer dreamer is offline
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Are the blood pressure machines at drug stores accurate?

I've used them a few times and my blood pressure has fluctuated quite a bit from time to time so I'm wondering if they are accurate enough to trust?
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  #2  
Old 04-18-2004, 10:20 PM
Zulema Zulema is offline
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I use the one at our Wal Mart and the one at Target all the time. I take 3 measurements in a row. They are both pretty much right on what my blood pressure is at the doctor's office the second and third time. The first measurement is always very high. The directions actually say something about taking it more than once to get an acurate reading.
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  #3  
Old 04-18-2004, 10:39 PM
kniz kniz is offline
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  • Some are most of the time
    Some are all of the time
    But not all are all of the time.
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  #4  
Old 04-18-2004, 10:56 PM
Danalan Danalan is offline
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The accuracy of drug store blood pressure machines depends on a lot of factors. I've been a biomedical equipment technician for over 20 years, and I've seen a lot of problems even with expensive hospital BP monitors.

If your arm is of average size, and your blood pressure and pulse are reasonably normal, and the machine is fairly new, it is probably OK for occasional use. If you have large arms, fast or slow pulse, or low blood pressure, there is room for concern. If the machine is over 5 years old, it probably uses an inadequate algorithim, or has worn tubing that can 'muffle' the signal. Again, not necessarily inaccurate, but the odds are bad.

In any case, if you are concerned about your blood pressure, there's nothing like getting a professional opinion. Many organization provide free screening at set time and places. Check your local hospital volunteer department, they may offer this simple service.

I myself have an inexpensive, automatic wrist blood pressure device. This allows me to check my own blood pressure regularly and keep a record of it.
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  #5  
Old 04-19-2004, 02:22 AM
suezeekay suezeekay is offline
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Danalan, just the person I want to talk to. I don't mean to hijack, but how often do you run into someone with your credentials.

My blood pressure is always "high" when I go to the local doc. The nurse reads it with my arm unsupported and without letting me sit for a few minutes. When I asked, my doctor said, No, No, No..do not use a home blood pressure machine; it is not accurate. You must use a mercury-type machine. (He's a skinny East Indian who sits on his desk in a black leather jacket and waves his cigarette at me while sipping from his 10th cup of coffee for the day). I bought one at Wal-Mart anyway, and when I sit 5 minutes my pressure is normal; I usually take several measuremenets for the average. Anyway, is it true they are so inaccurate? I have a large arm but use a large cuff; I bend my arm at the appropriate angle, and at heart level. I don't talk, etc. while taking my pressure. Am I fooling myself? He is pressuring me to take drugs.

I'm asking because you said you use a wrist-type device so you must have faith in it being fairly accurate.
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  #6  
Old 04-19-2004, 02:41 AM
Danalan Danalan is offline
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suezeekay, what does your BP read at the doctors? What does it read at home?

There is a phenomenon called 'white coat syndrome', which causes ones blood pressure to be high at the doctors office. Does your doctor take your BP himself? Does he take it in both arms, several times during your visit? If not, I'd consider getting a new doctor. Particularly since you may very well need medication -- high blood pressure is nothing to mess around with.

Since you say you have a large arm, can I assume you are overweight? Your doctor may be assuming facts not in evidence based upon your weight. It also bothers me that he smokes -- never a good sign of a responsible physician, IMHO.

The newer home machines are surprisingly accurate -- particularly useful for trending data over time. I'd get another opinion. I recommend that you find one of the free blood pressure check services I mentioned. Try to find one that uses an electronic vital signs monitor -- an automatic BP machine used in hospitals. These machines are very accurate. Ask if you can hang around and get several readings on each arm -- spaced at least 5 - 10 minutes apart. Record all the readings, and take them to your doctor (or whomever).

Your doctor's insistence on a mercury BP device is not only unnecessary, it is foolish. Ask him if he has a mercury spill kit on hand -- he should, as it's the only way to deal with a problem that could shut his whole office down for quite some time while the white-space-suit guys decontaminate it. No hospital uses mercury thermometers or BP cuffs any more. Too dangerous. Modern electronic BP monitors are at least as accurate as mercury -- and more accurate when compared to poorly trained nurses.
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  #7  
Old 04-19-2004, 09:41 AM
dreamer dreamer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SP2263
I use the one at our Wal Mart and the one at Target all the time. I take 3 measurements in a row. They are both pretty much right on what my blood pressure is at the doctor's office the second and third time. The first measurement is always very high. The directions actually say something about taking it more than once to get an acurate reading.

I hope you are right because I took it only once and it was 141/90
I'm going to pick up a prescription today so I will try your method and hopefully get a different result.
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