How does a digital blood pressure monitor measure blood pressure?

There are generally two different methods of measuring blood pressure; the oscillometric method and the auscultatory method.


Oscillometric method

A digital blood pressure monitor measures blood pressure using the oscillometric principle. The oscillometric method measures pressure changes in the artery and converts these movements into digital indications.

Using an oscillometric blood pressure monitor is very simple. No stethoscope is required for measurement and the measured values are easy to read, even if the measurement has already ended.


Auscultatory method

This is different from the oscillometric method. This method is still often used by doctors and nurses. With this method, blood pressure is measured by using an analogue blood pressure meter and a stethoscope. The doctor taking the measurement listens through the stethoscope for sounds associated with systolic and diastolic blood pressure; the Korotkoff sounds. With this method, it is essential that the physician or nurse has good hearing and is adequately trained for this purpose.

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2 comments on “How does a digital blood pressure monitor measure blood pressure?"

  1. Hank Peters says:


    If the pulse (heart) skips during a measurement, do you get an incorrect value?
    I think so.

    • says:

      Dear Mr. Peters,
      Opinions are divided on this. Yes, you can say that there is an incorrect value because the heart rate has not been measured completely. On the other hand, a 'missed' heart rate is only 1 or 2 seconds on a full measurement of more than 5 minutes and is therefore negligible. A good blood pressure monitor is not bothered by a 'missed' heartbeat.

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