AF Association
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AF and BP readings

Has anyone had personal experience of problems with getting BP readings? My GP surgery has just abandoned fitting me with a 24 hour BP monitor because it was continually trying to inflate and cut off the circulation in my arm. I have a home machine and it often fails to get a reading first time. I am in permanent AF which is satisfactorily rate controlled.

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Hi Mrspat - I had that problem, I had it fitted, went home it was okay for a few hours then it started going haywire, had to take it off it was hurting my arm too much. I am also in permanent AF and when I take my BP at home I normally take 3/4 readings over a period of 10 mins to get a reasonable reading, sometimes get the error message. Even the super duper one at the cardiac clinic often comes with error and nurse asks - do you have a irregular heartbeat!

Cassie

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Hi Mrspat

I purchased one via this site a Micro Life watch BP. it take 3 reading and average them out. It always give me a reading, informs if I am in AF or not and if I am outside the normal For BP. Very rare does it show me as not in AF but always gives me a BP reading that compares with the manual one the Doc gave me when I asked if he could do a comparison when I first got it to see if it was accurate.

Ray

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I have the same machine rjr681 and agree with your comments. It is also endorsed by NICE as suitable for detecting Af.

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Few if any BP machines are much good if you are in AF as they can't get a steady enough reading to register. The old fashioned machines with a stethoscope and doctor's ear works usually!

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That’s exactly what the Practice Nurse (an older woman) said Bob. When I commented that the young nurse in the cardiology clinic had taken my BP over my clothes, she raised her eyebrows and said that she wasn’t sure if they are trained the old fashioned way any more.

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I was at a heart failure clinic assessment, nurse took my blood pressure and could not get a reading. She mentioned it to the other nurse there and she said take it with a cuff and stethoscope. She gave them to her, she looked confused and said I do not know how to do it, so she had to be shown! She was in her early thirty's and the older one in her forty's. WE got there in the end.

Cassie

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I understood that as being the only way and safe way during AF.

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But banned old style in case of mercury spills

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BP readings with an automatic machine when you are in AF will always be inaccurate and so the last NICE guideline for hypertension recommended the manual method ( which is likely to be more accurate)

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Do you have a link for the NICE guidelines by any chance? I would like to show to GP. Thanks.

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Further to my comment to rjr681 .... you might also show him the NICE endorsement of the Microlife Watch BP Home BP monitor which is endorsed by NICE as able to detect AF. The only error messages i get are when the batteries are about to die.

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Hi Mrspat, I too had an awful time getting a reading when in permanent af. At hospital appointments, they sometimes failed altogether to get any reading! Since my ablation last Thursday, I have had no trouble at home. Don't worry.

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I was in hospital recently with atrial flutter - same problem , the BP machine kept restarting. The nurse cursed the equipment, swapped it out for another, which then did the same thing ! I believe it is an irregular HR which fools the BP machine.

When I went home my Omron M6 also struggled, it gave me an error code which indicated "Interference by clothing " or something similar which did not make sense as I was not wearing any on my upper body!

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My cheapo (Lidl) home machine often gives me error messages, even when I am not in AF. It certainly couldn't get a reading at all when I was. Last time I saw a GP at the practice I use, it was a very young woman who, when she wanted a BP reading immediately got out a cuff and stethoscope and did a manual reading from my RIGHT arm. This surprised me, but she was unfazed and just said I'm good (I was questioning my beta blocker dosage).

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The biggest problem with all of this is being a mere patient. Health professionals are very reluctant to take advice from or the opinion of anyone other than another professional.

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Since my ablation my BP has been high. My doctor has asked me to take it on my home machine but that shows all sorts of readings and often shows error or super inflates. I too had a nurse take it over clothing. When I said shall I take my jumper off she said no it doesn't matter

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Im a retired RN. It is best not to take bp over clothing. Also should be sitting upright, both feet on floor, not crossed and arm being used should be resting comfortably at heart level. Avoid talking during measurement. Ideally Dr offices should check bp on both arms but usually they dont.

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The machine I have at home which also indicates when you have an irregular heartbeat works fine unlike the machine at Cheltenham Hospital (where I finally got an appointment) which did not work and had a cuff which hurt too as it had no padding. I am a novice at this, only recently having had the diagnosis of Paroxysmal AF but having trouble with the drugs (and getting used to the diagnosis). I hope you get things sorted and hope we all start getting treated as individuals soon.

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I have now been summoned to a non-urgent appointment with my GP. The first mutually convenient date is towards the end of May (7 weeks). I expect to be told that I should take BP medication but I will be revisiting the difficulties with getting an accurate reading given my AF.

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Excuse me while I say “I told you so”. Article in today’s Daily Telegraph about a 10 year study reported in New England Journal of Medicine. It proves that white coat syndrome is real and that BP measurements taken at home are more reliable than those taken in a medical setting. Shall be showing this to my GP when we discuss proposed BP medication. Now to find a home use BP machine suitable for those with AF.

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