Sphygonometers v home blood pressure ... - High Blood Pressu...

High Blood Pressure Support

3,853 members983 posts

Sphygonometers v home blood pressure checking machines

GrahamB8 profile image

I’m 66, a little overweight, and went for my annual ‘MOT’ at my GP surgery today.

I’ve been under treatment for high blood pressure for around the last 20 years, during most of which time I’ve been prescribed Amlodipin and Irbestan which has largely kept the problem under control.

I checked myself at home yesterday afternoon and returned a level of 128/82 which I realise was not ideal, but was probably acceptable and nothing to cause any immediate concern.

The nurse checked again this morning using an almost identical machine to mine, and got a level of around 140/102, which sounded really pretty scary - especially as it returned a similar high when she checked it a few minutes later.

I was very worried by this, but when the nurse checked it again using a sphygonometer, she recorded a level almost identical to my own yesterday afternoon, and she thought the sphygonometer result was more reliable as she thinks they are a more reliable guide despite the fact that the vast majority of home users - as well as some GP clinical staff - will use the standard ‘shop sold’ machines that most of us have at home. She said she thought the first machine she used was probably faulty, but was happy to trust sphygonometer as they she finds them to be more reliable and subject to fewer faults.

Has anyone else had an experience such as this, and could anyone comment on the reliability of the sphygonometer theory?

15 Replies

Hi GrahamB8. I have found myself that the Sphygmomanometer usually records a lower reading than the home machines and also, a few years ago one of my sisters said her readings were lower with one of those than they were with the automatic machines. You could look online to see what the general comments are but I do agree with you.

GrahamB8 profile image
GrahamB8 in reply to springcross

Hello springcross,

Thank you for your comments and for taking the time to respond to my query. It seems that there was a considerable amount of wisdom in the nurse adopting the second route…



springcross profile image
springcross in reply to GrahamB8

Yes I agree GrahamB8. You know I often wonder if many people around the world are on BP medications that make them feel unwell and for no good reason because of these machines.

Some years ago, I rang my home monitor’s manufacturers to ask if they were reliable with the irregular heart beats I was experiencing at the time. The answer was that they would not work satisfactorily with this condition. I have not trusted the home monitors since, and my nephrologist and rheumatologist have preferred to stick to the traditional equipment.

GrahamB8 profile image
GrahamB8 in reply to Celtic

Thank you for your reply, Celtic

Something I forgot to mention was the fact that the nurse told me she can hear what’s going on with my blood pressure when tests using a sphygomanometer, and she trusts the evidence of her own ears far more than the often unreliable returns of the ‘home machines’.



As a side issue. When you’re having your BP done, whether at home or by a medical professional, have you had the same amount of rest (ten minutes) before your arm is plugged into the machine, and in both cases NO TALKING whilst the machine is thinking about things? In other words, are you comparing dessert apples with eating apples?

I personally would prefer to stick with one machine- whichever one it is - so that you are comparing like with like.

Also. Each sphygmomanometer in a surgery has to be tested each year independently and then adjusted. So they are not always completely accurate, since they may need to be adjusted.

Thirdly, you said you were worried. And that puts the pressure up, as I’m sure you are aware.

Three good points, Happyrosie. My knowledge had increased today in keeping with with my embarrassment and, it seems, my blood pressure…

Happyrosie profile image
Happyrosie in reply to GrahamB8

No need for embarrassment Graham, it was a question you needed input to.

My practice nurse always uses a sphygmomanometer as she says it is more reliable as it relies on her hearing the change as she releases the cuff. The home machines should be taken to the surgery to compare I was told as they can be inaccurate.Sounds like yours is fine too.😊

I do my blood pressure on my machine before I take my pills and after 7 at night as advised by my omron my readings are always lower at drs because I’ve walked there which as lower my blood pressure. I’ve just had mine all stopped at min I’m only taking one of them after having an allergic to antibiotics which landed me into hospital for few days.

I assume you mean a manual sphygmomanometer - in my experience, whether the reading is accurate or not is down to the person using it. I recently had a nurse use one of those on me - I'd previously just used my own machine and got a reading of 149 over 98, but she got a reading of 127 over 72. I knew this could not be right, and said so - she did it again and this time got 150 over 99, so it seems it is dependent on the skill of the nurse or doctor. Kudos to that particular nurse, but the next day, a different nurse took it and got 121 over 70 - I knew that was wrong, it had been 143 over 94 just before she came, but she point blank refused to repeat it, so that went down on my record, even though it was wrong. I'm rather wary of trusting the readings unless its your regular nurse and monitoring blood pressure for people is mostly what they do... Since the advent of blood pressure machines in surgeries and hospitals, I suspect the skill of accurately reading with a manual method is being lost because they don't do it routinely any more.

By the way, a blood pressure of 128 over 82 is good, in the normal range and nothing to worry about at all...

Hello GrahamB8, as bamboo89 says, a BP of 128/82 is perfect at your age. My surgery allows a BP up to 150/90 before medication. It goes up usually with age. Sphygmomanometers are more precise and the nurse was probably correct and the digital one needed servicing. You can get 3 different readings all within a few minutes of one another, which makes if difficult to know which is correct and that’s why it needs to be taken at 8.00 a.m and 8.00 p.m over a week and then you take the average of all the readings which is what GPs do.

Hi GrahamB8, every time I had my BP taken at GPs it was always higher than using my machine at home. I knew I had 'white coat syndrome' so it would always be higher in a medical setting. My GP agreed we could check my machine against the sphygmo and he used my left arm and I used my machine on my right arm at the same time and the readings were identical. So I take my readings at home and email to GP now.

Funnily enough, readings can be different between right arm and left! It was explained to me once but I cannot remember why this would be. Mines about 5 points lower on R than L.

These wrist cuff machines are never accurate...arm cuff manually inflated give consistant readings...and are far more accurate..

You may also like...