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Measuring blood pressure and heart rate
Old 12-12-2014, 06:21 PM   #1
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Measuring blood pressure and heart rate

I have had a couple of recommendations from health care professionals that I monitor both blood pressure and heart rate more closely than I have in the past, which then meant "Okay, I have a pulse. I'm fine".

I did buy one of those automatic BP cuffs at the drug store which I eventually became disgusted with because the readings were so erratic and not repeatable. So I threw the worthless thing out.

It seems that what I really should use for accuracy is a real stethoscope, BP cuff, and some sort of heart rate monitor so I can reliably, consistently, and hopefully easily, measure those parameters. I have no medical background I haven't the foggiest idea of what characteristics to look for that a quality product should have, what I should look for, and what bells & whistles are of little value, or what is a reasonable price to pay for these items.

I don't need a lot of gizmos and don't mind taking the time to write these measurements down on paper or a spreadsheet. It doesn't have to upload to a computer, tablet, phone, etc. as I wouldn't use those features anyway so paying for them is a waste of money for me. Quality, simple, reliable, and repeatable are what I'm looking for.

Suggestions from the knowledge base?
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Old 12-12-2014, 06:29 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Walt34 View Post
I have had a couple of recommendations from health care professionals that I monitor both blood pressure and heart rate more closely than I have in the past, which then meant "Okay, I have a pulse. I'm fine".

I did buy one of those automatic BP cuffs at the drug store which I eventually became disgusted with because the readings were so erratic and not repeatable. So I threw the worthless thing out.

It seems that what I really should use for accuracy is a real stethoscope, BP cuff, and some sort of heart rate monitor so I can reliably, consistently, and hopefully easily, measure those parameters. I have no medical background I haven't the foggiest idea of what characteristics to look for that a quality product should have, what I should look for, and what bells & whistles are of little value, or what is a reasonable price to pay for these items.

I don't need a lot of gizmos and don't mind taking the time to write these measurements down on paper or a spreadsheet. It doesn't have to upload to a computer, tablet, phone, etc. as I wouldn't use those features anyway so paying for them is a waste of money for me. Quality, simple, reliable, and repeatable are what I'm looking for.

Suggestions from the knowledge base?
I have found the omron intellesense 652 and earlier models to work well. They do a a sensor that tells you when you arm is in the right position by beeping when you hold it at heart level. Other brands may not have this sensor and as a result may show more variation.
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Old 12-12-2014, 06:44 PM   #3
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Not sure why one would want to pay much attention to their heart rate but if they did then I would suspect that the time-honoured watch with second hand or digital device with second readout would be the way to go. As far as blood pressure, if you are out and about then the station at the local Walgreen's or Walmart or wherever is a solid bet and should be pretty well calibrated. Just relax for a few moments before you do your BP and repeat it a couple of times. If you must 'invest' in a home monitor then Consumers Reports reviews them if I recall correctly. They do (I just went to the site) and the highest rated is the CVS Premium BP3MV1-3WCVS Item# 800230 followed by the Omron 10 series.
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Old 12-12-2014, 06:52 PM   #4
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I have an omron HEM-711 it seems too work great. Had checked it against DRs and valided. It seems to provide repeatable and reasonable numbers.

It has a memory of readings/dates etc. Luckily I haven't had to use it much for the last couple years.

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Old 12-12-2014, 06:59 PM   #5
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BP readings may be all over the place if you haven't sat restfully for 20 minutes before taking it. I've also found that when I've fasted for a blood test my BP is high. Or maybe you aren't putting the cuff in the correct place. Just how erratic was it? I vary 10-15 on the high number and 5-10 on the low. One bad reading doesn't bother me. If I see a lot, or a trend, I'd worry. I also compare after going to the doctor or after giving blood to see how close mine is to theirs. Mine is an Omron HEM-712C, a few years old.
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Old 12-12-2014, 07:28 PM   #6
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I bought the Omron 785 three years ago:



(Click on the picture for the link to it on Amazon).

It is terrific and agrees completely with what my readings are at the doctor. Its readings are very repeatable. I heartily recommend it - - - or, one of the other Omrons, after reading the above posts.
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Old 12-12-2014, 07:43 PM   #7
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I bought the Omron 785 three years ago:

(Click on the picture for the link to it on Amazon).
That Link shows a newer model: http://www.amazon.com/Omron-BP785N-S...p_ob_title_hpc

Oximeters are a quick way to check heart rate: (For instance at) FDA 510k approved digital finger pulse oximeter/oximetry and Hand Held Oximeter. - #1 Oximeter|Fetal Doppler|Infrared Thermometer|HCG/LH Test Strip|Drug Test Kit|PFM|Nebulizer|ClinicalGuard.com

or at: Amazon.com: oximeters: Health & Personal Care
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Old 12-12-2014, 07:47 PM   #8
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That Link shows a newer model
I'm sure that model is fine too, being another Omron. However I cannot personally vouch for it since the one I linked to is the one I have used for the past three years.
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Old 12-12-2014, 09:32 PM   #9
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I have an omron HEM-711 it seems too work great. Had checked it against DRs and valided. It seems to provide repeatable and reasonable numbers.

It has a memory of readings/dates etc. Luckily I haven't had to use it much for the last couple years.

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I have a similar unit, the Omron 712C and I have been happy with it.

I have to sit quietly for 5 mins for it to be repeatable. That seems to make a difference.
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Old 12-12-2014, 09:51 PM   #10
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I have a similar unit, the Omron 712C and I have been happy with it.

I have to sit quietly for 5 mins for it to be repeatable. That seems to make a difference.
That is also the model I have and it works well.

I also record heart rate as I have a low HR, usually in the 40's or 50's at rest. Recently I was sat watching TV in the evening and could feel my heart beating through my right shoulder of all places, so I timed it and it seemed to be 36. I then put the cuff on and BP was normal but HR was 35. I recorded it on my spreadsheet. Over the last 15 years I have had 3 treadmill stress tests and all clear, plus many EKG's. My health record shows bradycardia which may be a problem, or may be because I am athlete, which I am not. As I am nearly 60 I would have expected my resting HR to increase as my BP has done. (It is usually in the "borderline range" according to the Mayo Clinic charts, but the Doc at the annual physical is not concerned, so I am okay with a slightly elevated BP).
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Old 12-12-2014, 10:01 PM   #11
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That is also the model I have and it works well.

I also record heart rate as I have a low HR, usually in the 40's or 50's at rest. Recently I was sat watching TV in the evening and could feel my heart beating through my right shoulder of all places, so I timed it and it seemed to be 36. I then put the cuff on and BP was normal but HR was 35. I recorded it on my spreadsheet. Over the last 15 years I have had 3 treadmill stress tests and all clear, plus many EKG's. My health record shows bradycardia which may be a problem, or may be because I am athlete, which I am not. As I am nearly 60 I would have expected my resting HR to increase as my BP has done. (It is usually in the "borderline range" according to the Mayo Clinic charts, but the Doc at the annual physical is not concerned, so I am okay with a slightly elevated BP).
You are tall, right? DH also has a low HR. That's how I can tell our readings apart on the history saved in the monitor. If the pulse is 47, it ain't mine! DH doesn't take his heart rate first thing. 40s seems to be his normal daytime rate. He's 6'4", same age as you.
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Old 12-12-2014, 10:31 PM   #12
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You are tall, right? DH also has a low HR. That's how I can tell our readings apart on the history saved in the monitor. If the pulse is 47, it ain't mine! DH doesn't take his heart rate first thing. 40s seems to be his normal daytime rate. He's 6'4", same age as you.
I'm 6' 1.5"

Excellent, nice to know
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Old 12-13-2014, 03:01 AM   #13
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I have a wrist BP monitor and it seems to be accurate and it's much easier than the arm kind.


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Old 12-13-2014, 06:24 AM   #14
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We, too, use a wrist monitor -- a LifeSource UB-328. We have used it --several times a week -- for about ten years now. Hmmm. I find that it has been replaced (by the manufacturer) with the UB-512.

I know the wrist models have a bad reputation but we have found it to very accurate (and consistent) both at home and at the doctor's office; matching their results.

Of course, we have no medical reason to monitor our BP -- only curiosity -- so this recommendation may not be for everyone.
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Old 12-13-2014, 09:10 AM   #15
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I'm an old school registered nurse and prefer taking manual BP's for accuracy. My DH has hypertension and I take his BP a couple times a month. I bought a very simple manual monitor from Wal-Mart for less than $20, and it works great. He uses it himself sometimes as well.

it is a ReliOn Manual BP Monitor Model # 100-021 REL

Manually counting your pulse at the outer aspect of your wrist (radial artery) for 30 seconds will give an accurate heart rate.
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Old 12-13-2014, 03:53 PM   #16
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Thank you all for the advice/suggestions. There's a lot to choose from and I'll have to do some more reading on this but at least now I have some good starting points.

Perhaps the one I had was simply defective. I'd lie in bed reading a book and get wildly different readings ten minutes apart. I'm not sure how I could be more resting/still than that other than asking DW to take readings when I'm asleep.
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Old 12-13-2014, 05:07 PM   #17
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I use the "Walgreens Manual Inflate Blood Pressure Kit" $16.99, old school style.
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Old 12-13-2014, 05:10 PM   #18
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I use the "Walgreens Manual Inflate Blood Pressure Kit" $16.99, old school style.
Exactly what I was looking for! I haven't seen those in the CVS locally but there is a Walgreen's a block away from them so I'll go there. Thank you.
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Old 12-13-2014, 05:11 PM   #19
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Exactly what I was looking for! I haven't seen those in the CVS locally but there is a Walgreen's a block away from them so I'll go there. Thank you.
I was looking for a while to get an old style cuff, seems no one sells them anymore.
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Old 12-13-2014, 07:45 PM   #20
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The Omrons seem to hold up well and generally match up with professional units. The sensing gizmo/tube placement in the cuff itself should line up a little to the inside of arm at the elbow crease when your palm is facing upward. BP cuffs come in sizes so check the marking on the cuff to assure you are in the right size range.

Place the cuff well up on the arm though not into the armpit. The cuff should fit fairly snugly before inflating. At first, take it 3 times in a row and take the average.

Don't look at the temporary read-outs while the BP is being taken. Stay silent and restful throughout. Relax the muscles of the arm.

Home monitoring of pulse rate for screening purposes lacks evidence of benefit, though it may be useful as a measure of fitness or to follow known arrhythmias.

Relax. We doctor/providers are well aware of white coat syndrome. We will rarely make a diagnosis solely on the basis of a home reading.

Hope that helps.
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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