* Prices may differ from that shown
Omron M3 upper arm blood pressure monitor.
Having been diagnosed and being treated for hypertension I bought an electronic blood pressure machine a few years ago to monitor my blood pressure and have monitored it for the last few years. I do not have hypertension now due to the treatment I am taking but I do still monitor it on a regular basis. The blood pressure machine I was using met with a mighty accident and broke so I had to look out for a new machine.
The machine that I wanted was the Omron M3 and is widely available from chemists, Argos and supermarkets alike but with marked differences in price. I had done my research about the different types of blood pressure machine. First port of call was Sainsbury's just because it was handy on my way home from work where it was 'on offer' for £79. I told the pharmacist don't be so daft they should sell for around the 40 quid mark and promptly left the shop and headed for Argos where I had to go anyway and bought it there for £39.99 which is far more acceptable and much kinder on the wallet.
We use Omron products in the hospital and I have always found them to be easy to use and fairly reliable however for laymen I would advise that you still have your blood pressure checked by a health care professional every so often if you have blood pressure problems. Not only that I think it is important that you are aware of what the significance of the readings are.
What is in the box?
The Machine can be found inside the box. It is white with a digital screen with a blue button to turn it on and off and also to press again to take a reading. The readings on the machine include the Systolic and diastolic blood pressure reading plus the pulse rate. There is also a warning box that shows if you have applied the cuff correctly. Its memory also keeps a record of previous readings which is quite helpful. The machine is operated by four AA batteries which should last at least a year. Along the side of the machine there is a hole for the tubing to be joined with the machine.
There is also a grey coloured blood pressure cuff which can be applied to the upper arm just above the elbow. On the cuff there are markings which show you where to position the cuff so that the sensor inside the cuff can detect the pulse as it is taking the reading. The cuff must be put on correctly otherwise you will get inaccurate readings. Ideally you should not have tight clothing on when taking the blood pressure as this could affect the reading. The cuff also has Velcro on two sides of the cuff so that the cuff can be applied securely and firmly. The cuff has to be threaded through a metal bar which supports the cuff and keeps it in place.
There is also an instruction booklet which tells you exactly how to set up your machine and how take your blood pressure. The instructions are in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Russian and Arabic. There are also error readings which are explained in the manual for example if the cuff is under inflated, you have moved during the reading, clothing is interfering with the reading, air is leaking from the cuff or the tubing has not been applied correctly. The machine also comes with a three year guarantee which is very useful.
This is all contained in a handy nylon zipped case which keeps it neat and tidy.
Some basic and useful terminology?
Hypertension = High Blood pressure.
Hypotension = Low blood pressure.
Postural hypotension = Blood pressure drops significantly when you stand up suddenly which could result in you falling.
Tachycardia = Fast pulse rate.
Bradycardia = Slow pulse rate.
Arrhythmia = Irregular pulse rate.
Systolic blood pressure.
This is the upper reading which is known as the systolic blood pressure which indicates how hard the heart has to work to pump the blood around the body.
Diastolic blood pressure.
This is the lower reading which indicates the blood pressure inside the heart as the blood chambers are refilling with blood.
Hypertension is diagnosed when the systolic blood pressure is over 140mmhg and the diastolic blood pressure is over 90mmhg. (Guidelines in the diagnosis and treatment of Hypertension as recommended by the National institute of clinical excellence.) The reading was based on millimetres of mercury although mercury is never used now in taking blood pressure readings but the readings are still recorded as mmhg.
How do you use the machine?
The machine is quite simple to use however it should be used in certain conditions.
* Blood pressure should not be taken within half an hour of smoking or having a hot or cold drink.
* You should wait half an hour after taking a bath.
* You should not have been undertaking any strenuous exercise.
* You should be relaxed and calm.
* You should be sitting comfortably in an upright chair.
* The cuff should be level with the heart.
* Ideally you should use the left arm although you could use the right arm.
Apply the cuff to the arm lining up the indicator on the cuff with the pulse on the inner part of your arm and sit with your arm straight, relaxed and supported. Press the on button on the machine to turn it on. Press the same button again and wait for the cuff to inflate.
When you first use the machine the cuff may inflate to around 200mmhg which is quite uncomfortable but as the cuff is released the discomfort subsides. Once the machine has taken your blood pressure a few times it memorises your blood pressure so will only inflate slightly above your normal reading. If your blood pressure has risen then it will continue to inflate to a higher level.
The air is slowly released from the cuff and the reading starts to take place as the cuff deflates. You will also see a little heart shape start pulsating as it deflates. When it has deflated the machine will give you a reading on the front of the digital display.
How useful is this machine?
I have found it to be quite accurate and a useful means of keeping an eye on my health. Just prior to Christmas the machine gave some very low readings which was unusual for me. I checked my blood pressure at work on more sophisticated machines and found that the readings were accurate and spot on. However it should be used only as an adjunct to self-monitoring and proper professional monitoring. For those with limited knowledge about the significance of the readings it in itself could be damaging to health by causing unnecessary anxiety however used as a measuring tool it can be quite beneficial.
Would I recommend it?
Yes I would. Omron make good products and this one is quite acceptable for my needs. I have found it to be reliable in monitoring my blood pressure and would endorse the use of this however if you are a little on the neurotic side this may in itself increase your blood pressure. It is useful for those people who attend the GP or hospital and have white coat syndrome whereby their blood pressure rises due to anxiety.
For me this is a five star product and I would recommend it for self-monitoring.
The Omron M3 Automatic Arm Blood Pressure Monitor was given to my husband a few years back now when he first started having problems with his blood pressure and heart. As it was a gift I have no idea how much it cost but having looked on-line I see you can purchase one from Argos for 39.99. Even though this is my husband's monitor I do use it occasionally when I feel a bit blood pressured - by this I mean suffering from headaches, the occasional nose bleed and feeling dizzy. These are my symptoms when I know to check - I am not stating that these are the symptoms of high blood pressure - this is just how I feel and know when to keep an eye on my blood pressure.
Few facts about the monitor.
* It's digital, compact, simple to use and a good design ideal for travel.
* It comes in its own hard opaque case which fits into a cardboard box.
* Date and time display
* The colour of the unit is grey with a material cuff in grey also, that has a velcrose fastening.
* LCD display is large, clear with bold writing and numbers. Displays Systolic, Diastolic, Pulse and Memory
*What do these terms mean?*:
Systolic (upper) blood pressure is produced when the heart contracts and expels blood into the blood vessels
Diastolic (lower) blood pressure: this is the value measured when the heart muscle is dilated and again fills with blood
*Blood pressure readings are expressed in mmHG*
*Features of the monitor*:
* One touch automatic inflation and deflation
* 99 - measurement automatic memory/recall
* Power saving, automatic shut off in 3 minutes
* Operates on 4 AA batteries
*Correct posture and position*
Before you attempt to take your blood pressure make sure you are feeling calm and relaxed. Be sure to rest for 5 minutes before taking blood pressure measurements. Don't take it when you have just rushed in the house from climbing four flights of stairs or run a marathon. Be sensible.
Place your arm with the palm relaxed upwards on a support and make sure the cuff is at the level of the heart.
Do not move, talk or tighten muscles during the process. This may lead to false readings.
You should take your blood pressure in a quiet place, in a relaxed seating position.
You should wait an hour before taking measurements after having coffee or smoking.
Do not take your blood pressure after having a bath or exercising.
If you feel you need to go to the loo you should go before taking the measurements.
*Using the monitor and measuring blood pressure*
Measurement should be taken on the naked arm which usually has the higher blood pressure value. Wrap the cuff round the upper arm, the tube lies in the centre of the bend of the elbow, pointing towards the hand. Then take the free end of the cuff, wrap it firmly round your arm and close the velcrose fastener. Apply the cuff so that the cuff tube is placed in the centre of the bend of the elbow, on the artery and that the lower edge of the cuff is approximately 2-3cm from the bend of the elbow. The cuff should be firm but not too tight. You should be able to push two fingers between the arm and the cuff.
You can use the monitor on either arm but if you are unsure then ask your doctor. I always use it on my left arm.
It is important to make sure the cuff has been applied correctly as if not it can lead to inaccurate readings. Also, use the markings on the edge of the cuff to check if the cuff size is correct. The white arrow should point on the red marking strip. If the white arrow is outside the red marking, you need another cuff size.
Press the Start/Stop button. The appearance of all display segments followed by a flashing arrow pointing downwards, shows that the device is checking itself automatically and is ready for use. Automatic inflation begins at approximately 190 mmHg. You will feel the arm monitor tighten and then deflate. If you look at the screen at the bottom you will see a small heart and see it beating so you can tell whether your heart beat is irregular or not. (more info about this below)
A beep will indicate the end of the measurement and then you will be able to record the measurement - systolic and diastolic and pulse. A small booklet comes with the device for you to record all measurements.
I'm not going to say too much about blood pressure measurements because you can get this information online but from what I understand established hypertension is defined as repeated measurement of a systolic value greater than 140mmHg and/or a diastolic value greater than 90 mmHg. Readings of less than 100 mmHg systolic and less than 70 mmHg diastolic are considered too low and unlike too high blood pressure readings, too low blood pressure readings are not usually expected to be associated with health risks. However, if you feel unwell, check with your doctor.
*Does the Omron M3 give an accurate reading?*
Good question. The instructions state that this monitor detects an irregular heartbeat. It doesn't. How do I know? My husband suffers from an irregular heartbeat (Arhythmia) and has done for many years. When he first started using this monitor his readings were all over the place - one minute the monitor was giving a reading of low blood pressure (100/60) and then within minutes it was showing a reading of high blood pressure (145/90). Also, the little heart I mentioned earlier couldn't be seen at all. So we stopped using this device and upgraded to a better device that in theory does detect an irregular heartbeat but even with this new machine I wouldn't say it was a 100% true as he still receives outrageous readings but it is more accurate than the device I am reviewing.
My verdict: Firstly, I think it is quite expensive for what it is. However, this digital arm blood pressure monitor is good enough for the daily monitoring of blood pressure between visits to the doctor if there are no problems like Arhythmia. I don't generally suffer from hypertension but I do use this regularly to keep an eye on my measurements and I am happy with the device. It is no good whatsoever for my husband as the readings are too inaccurate but this is because of his Arhythmia. However, the info about the device shouldn't stipulate that it does detect this heart irregularity. This is false.
Remember, monitoring of blood pressure is important and should be checked regularly by a qualified doctor as elevated blood pressure multiplies the risk for other health problems like a heart attack or stroke.
Other info: There is a 3 year guarantee with the monitor and a full instruction booklet written in several languages.