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Measuring Blood Pressure
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Blood pressure cuff selection and sizing
Errors in measurement of blood pressure have been shown to be significant when the blood pressure cuff is too large or too small. The error of “miscuffing” is the most common error in an out-patient setting when it comes to blood pressure measurement (Pickering et al. Circ 2005;111:697-716). The majority of these errors occur when clinicians use blood pressure cuffs that are too small for the patients. The ideal cuff size should have a bladder length that is 80% of the arm
circumference, a width that is at least 40% of the arm circumference, and a length-to-width ratio of 2:1. AHA scientific statement recommendations (Hypertension 2005; 45:142-161), are presented below, and a diagram of a typical blood pressure cuff is depicted to the right.
  • For an arm circumference of 22 to 26 cm, the cuff should be a “small adult” size or 12 x 22 cm.
  • For an arm circumference of 27 to 34 cm, the cuff should be an “adult” size or 16 x 30 cm.
  • For an arm circumference of 35 to 44 cm, the cuff should be a “large adult” size or 16 x 36 cm.
  • For an arm circumference of 45 to 52 cm, the cuff should be an “adult thigh” size or 16 x 42 cm.
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Section: Measuring Blood Pressure
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