When blood pressure cuff is too big?
The proper cuff and bladder size used in the assessment of blood pressure is important for accurate measurement. The use of a cuff that is too short and narrow for a given arm results in erroneously high blood pressure measurement. Use of a cuff that is too large results in erroneously low blood pressure measures.
CUFF SIZE AND PLACEMENT. The most common error in blood pressure measurement is use of inappropriate cuff size. Considerable overestimation can occur if the cuff is too small. The bladder length recommended by the AHA is 80 percent of the patient's arm circumference, and the ideal width is at least 40 percent.
- Procedures. To begin blood pressure measurement, use a properly sized blood pressure cuff. The length of the cuff's bladder should be at least equal to 80% of the circumference of the upper arm. Wrap the cuff around the upper arm with the cuff's lower edge one inch above the antecubital fossa.
- Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and recorded with the systolic number first, followed by the diastolic number. For example, a normal blood pressure would be recorded as something under 120/80 mm Hg.
- Some experts recommend that if the correct size cuff for the upper arm is unavailable or if it is difficult to fit a large adult or thigh cuff, the forearm should be used as an alternative. However, measurements of blood pressure in the forearm have been noted to vary by a mean of 7 to 15 mm Hg.
Blood Pressure Cuff is too Small1,3,4 - It is extremely important to make sure the proper size blood pressure cuff is used on your upper arm when taking a measurement. Studies have shown that using too small of a blood pressure cuff can cause a patient's systolic blood pressure measurement to increase 10 to 40 mmHg.
- Your body produces a surge of hormones when you're in a stressful situation. These hormones temporarily increase your blood pressure by causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow. There's no proof that stress by itself causes long-term high blood pressure.
- Read the measurement on the tape measure in inches. A circumference of 7 to 9 inches requires a small adult sized cuff. A regular, or standard sized cuff, is needed if the arm circumference measures 9 to 13 inches. A large adult cuff should be used if the measurement is 13 to 17 inches.
- Wrap the cuff around your arm so it's snug but not too tight. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to slip one finger under the cuff. The bottom of the cuff should be about one inch above the bend, or crease, in your elbow.
Updated: 2nd October 2019