The Different Blood Pressure Cuff Parts Explained!

The Different Blood Pressure Cuff Parts Explained!

You have visited your doctor's office and have had your blood pressure taken. The questions is this: Do you understand the tools used to take your blood pressure and the process which it is taken?

​Most of you do not understand what the numbers collected represent. It is important for you to understand these numbers, ​how they are labeled and how they are found. The tool used to take blood pressure, often referred to as a blood pressure cuff, is known as a sphygmomanometer.

More on this in a bit…

*Updated as of June 2021.

There are many parts of a ​bp cuff that are important to getting an accurate reading of ​your blood pressure. Understanding the blood pressure cuff parts and what they do can help you to fully understand a blood pressure reading.

The common types of blood pressure monitors (sphygmomanometer, manual, and digital) are all explained below. If you didn't know how they worked before, you will after reading this article!

Let's jump right in!

The Anatomy of a Sphygmomanometer

The sphygmomanometer has several key components to help you determine ​your blood pressure​. The cuff is the part that is placed around the ​your arm. It fills with air to apply pressure to ​your arm and limits the amount of blood flow to the area being monitored.

Connected to the cuff is a tube and bulb. The bulb is squeezed repeatedly to allow air pressure to build up in the cuff. The tubing is used to send the air to and from the cuff.

At the base of the tubing, near the bulb, is a valve. This valve is used to slowly release the air to get the proper reading. Finally, there is a gauge. The gauge shows the amount of pressure being placed on the arm for the reading.

Sphygmomanometer diagram, manual blood pressure cuff

Photo credit: Medisave UK

The Manual Blood Pressure Cuff

The manual ​bp cuff is commonly used throughout the medical field. This type of cuff also requires the use of a stethoscope for a proper reading.

To get an accurate reading, the cuff is properly placed on ​you ​and filled with air to apply pressure to ​your arm. A stethoscope is then used to listen to the vein below the cuff on the arm.

As pressure is released from the cuff, the administrator listens for ​your heart beat sound. When it is first heard, a number is read from the gauge. This gives the administrator​ your systolic pressure, which is the amount of pressure in the veins when blood is being pumped.

Next, the administrator continues to slowly release pressure from the cuff. They will then listen for your heart beat sound to stop and the number on the valve is recorded. This number corresponds to the diastolic pressure, which is the pressure inside the veins when ​your heart is at rest.

Digital Blood Pressure Monitor

There are also digital versions of the ​bp cuff available, including some very high-tech options. These have different ​b​lood pressure cuff parts and vary by type.

The digital machines still have the actual cuff that goes around the ​your arm where pressure is applied.

This more modern apparatus has a digital unit attached that applies the pressure, releases it, and takes the measurements automatically.

Some have varying forms of automated parts that make testing much easier for ​you. Digital blood pressure monitors are also very to easy to use at home.

Manual vs Digital Blood Pressure Monitors

The digital version is often easier to use for ​most of you. Unlike a manual ​bp cuff, ​you do not need much training to use this tool.

Often, simple instructions with the device are sufficient to get a proper reading. Another benefit of a digital sphygmomanometer is it can be used in a noisy environment. Manual cuffs require your ability to hear the heart beat to get a measurement, whereas digital cuffs automatically read the measurement for ​you. This allows an easier reading in your busy office or ER.

The downside of a digital monitor is accuracy. Manual cuffs give a more accurate measurement than a digital cuff can. This can be a very important issue when accuracy is necessary due to​ your condition​.

​Now You Know!

Understanding how the various sphygmomanometers work, as well as their core components, can make it easier for you to understand how to use it.

It can also help ​you understand more clearly ​your blood pressure, as well as how to achieve the most accurate reading possible. Health is a very big concern of most ​of you, so being on top of your blood pressure is crucial.

Empowering yourself with knowledge can make the entire process less intimidating. It can also help you understand the diagnosis, as well as any treatment plan.

​Be sure to stay away from knock off products, and only get the best deal for authentic BP ​machines! Check out our reviews on the list of machines available for you today.

Last updated on July 17th, 2018