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Three sphygmomanometers compared

Three GPs review different types of sphygs and give their verdict

A good sphyg has always been a vital piece of any GP’s diagnostic equipment, but up until recently the design and appearance has been very similar from brand to brand.

These days, however, BP can be measured using mercury-free set ups or with completely automated digital systems that can work on the wrist or arm. They can even record readings to download later onto a computer.

So, whether you like your sphyg to be traditional or neat and digital, we have out together this handy comparison, based on past GP reviews, to help provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

A&D UM-101 mercury-free sphygmomanometer
Reviewed by Dr Colin Lewis, a GP with an interest in cardiology in Guildford, Surrey 

‘A mercury column sphygmomanometer is easy to use, simple to maintain and very accurate. Compare this to he A&D UM-101 mercury-free sphyg which uses a liquid crystal display instead of the mercury column. It pumps a pressure transducer that increases the length of a pressure bar of the LCD display.

‘You can still round off the systolic and diastolic values to the nearest 5mmHg. But at the bottom of the scale, the BP is also displayed in figures, so with careful release of air, you should obtain an accurate result.

‘The measurement accuracy is +/-3mmHg, which is average for most digital BP machines. The UM-101 sphyg is easy to use and combines the advantages of the mercury sphyg with bonus digital technology.’

Omron R6 wrist BP monitor
Reviewed by Dr Bryan Palmer, a GP in Fareham, Hampshire 

‘I had abandoned my aneroid sphygmomanometer for home visiting because I had come across enough arms that didn’t match the cuff size. A wrist system avoids this problem.

‘There is, however, a drawback. Some of the elderly have incredibly thin wrists and the device isn’t tight enough for it to work. However, that’s a rare failing in what is otherwise a great bit of equipment.

‘Wrist monitors are designed to measure BP when applied to the left wrist with the arm pointing to the opposite shoulder tip so that the monitor is at the level of the heart. A press of the on/off switch starts the device and the reading is displayed with the time and date.’

Omron M7 BP monitor
Reviewed by Dr Peter Standing, a GP in Bury, Lancashire 

‘The Omron M7 is a fully automated oscillometric sphygmomanometer for surgery or home BP monitoring that meets the exacting validation standards of the European Society of Hypertension.

‘The unit is designed with a large LCD screen and systolic and diastolic displays. The M7 ComFit cuff is the best I have ever used and quick to fit.

‘A result appears within 25 seconds. The M7 will displaythe average of the last three readings.’ 

Omron R6

Equipment supplied by Williams Medical.

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