A Sphygmomanometer (pronounced like this sfig’-mo-ma-nom-e-ter; though often called Sphyg for short) is the name of the medical instrument used to measure blood pressure.
This life saving instrument is definitely not just some unique doctor’s table décor so forgive its really long name which is a combination of two words: sphygmós (meaning pulse in the Greek language), plus the scientific term manometer (meaning a pressure meter).
The sphygmomanometer is a portable device which now comes in a few varieties of design options that may either be operated manually or electronically, but they basically consists of these key components:
- An inflatable cuff- the part that is wrapped on the upper arm
- A measuring unit- which may be a mercury manometer or aneroid gauge if manual, or just a digital device/screen (to read the blood pressure)
- An inflation mechanism- that may be a manually operated pump with a valve or operated electrically.
How to measure Blood Pressure with a Sphygmomanometer
Whereas the home-kit sypgh is designed for a DIY (do it yourself) user-friendly approach with a push button and a digital screen, the manual sypgh can only be used by a well-taught healthcare professional on another person.
To measure the blood pressure, the inflatable cuff is neatly wrapped around the arm then slightly inflated manually or electronically by the push of the button. The cuff is then gradually deflated manually with the valve while a stethoscope is placed over the elbow to hear the sound of blood rushing back through the (brachial) artery. It is the beginning and the end of the sound made by the inrush of blood that is simultaneously read off as the higher value systolic pressure and the lower value diastolic pressure that both consist of the Blood Pressure reading. In practice, these two values are written as a fraction with the systolic on top and the diastolic below e.g. 120/80mmHg.
The higher systolic value is a measure of the pressure within the heart as it is actively pumping out the blood, while the lower diastolic value measures the blood pressure within the arteries as the heart rests in between its pumping action.
Present day sphygmomanometer have shifted from just being medical instruments to being more of gadgets that come in diverse manner of cute shapes and sizes and are suitable for use at homes because they are portable and very easy to operate. An added advantage is that it helps for making healthcare even more individualized.
Although medical gadgets like the Sphygmomanometer will probably still see more trendy evolutions, no one expects it to become hip like an ipad but in the least, their user-friendliness should hopefully help to ensure that someday in the near future, no one should ever be undiagnosed of Hypertension!