How does a blood pressure cuff work?

You know that device they put around your upper arm to measure your blood pressure whenever you visit your doctor? Have you ever wondered how does a blood pressure cuff work? I have... I recently took my son to the doctor's office and the nurse used one to find how his blood pressure was, and it got me thinking.

This pumping device is used to calculate the force of the blood that goes through the arteries and veins. The doctors call it sphygmomanometer... so let's just call it a pressure cuff.

When your heart beats it produces systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Too much technical-medical terms? Yep, I found it hard to understand at first, but it turns out, it's pretty simple... The systolic pressure is caused when the heart contracts and pushes blood through your arteries and veins, and the diastolic blood pressure is when the heart rests between beats. And you know how they put one number on top of the other when giving a blood pressure result? The top one is the systolic, and the bottom one the diastolic. So a normal blood pressure measurement for anyone should be 120/80 (120 over 80) or lower; anything higher than those two numbers could be considered hypertension (high blood pressure; a dangerous medical condition that could lead to heart diseases). Therefore, it is always good to have this data at hand when going to an examination. The medical staff can determine whether this is affecting your health status or not.

There are two types of cuffs, automatic and manual but they work pretty much the same way.

The automatic blood pressure cuff has a digital screen that displays the reading results. They can operate on battery or electric power. The cuff inflates to stop blood flow on the arm and then slowly releases it to register when the pulse starts and stops. Once it is done, it will show the results on the screen, and some even have a warning system that could prevent the user from placing it on the wrong spot.

The manual blood pressure cuff is a bladder-looking air bag connected to a bulb pump and a numbered gauge that indicates the blood pressure number. The bulb is squeezed inflating the cuff. This cuts the blood flow to the arm, then as a valve on the pump releases the air from the cuff to loosen it, the blood flows registering its circulation on the gauge as it pulses in time with the blood circulating in the artery. Some caregivers use a complementary stethoscope to verify the results of the gauge.

Today's market offers a variety of blood pressure cuffs. However, the automatic category has a larger range in types of cuffs like, wrist, forearm and even a finger press. It all depends on the user's preference and what is recommended by the practitioner. But once you understand how does a blood pressure cuff work, picking out the right one and understanding how to use it, should make it an easy task.

Discount Medical Supplies offers all types of blood pressure cuffs on their online store. Check them out at

Related Read: Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: Stop Smoking and Start Breathing