19 August 2008

Stethoscopes and Measuring Blood Pressure

Leading medical professionals continually argue which method of taking blood pressure is "best". The standard image of the hospital Doctor wearing a stethoscope around his neck often comes to mind but there are other methods of taking blood pressure readings than the traditional ones that don't rely manually listening to the pulse during testing

Not so long ago the consensus was that wrist monitors were not satisfactorily accurate nor consistent - however with improved technologies such as Advanced Positioning which assists users to maintain the correct level to the heart their reliability is becoming acknowledged.

For many years the British Hypertension Society and Blood Pressure Organisation have promoted automatic upper arm machines. These digital monitors automatically inflate and deflate the cuff and have built in sensors to take the readings when the pulse stops and restarts. The sensors are considered to be much more accurate than the human hearing through a stethoscope.

Many medical schools still insist that students train to take blood pressure with traditional aneroid equipment that includes a cuff, an attached pump, a stethoscope and a gauge which stands them in good stead for their careers - see this video using a stethoscope

Posts on the student doctors' forum show the preference for Littmann Stethoscopes - in particular the added value of the Littmann Cardiology III Stethoscope which is highly sensitive and only the users impaired hearing would render this unsuitable for measuring blood pressure in the "old fashioned" way.

As one commenter said - "why risk a $200,000 education by saving $20? Cutting Corners when buying a stethoscope is a big mistake."

Often the schools have close relationships with the local suppliers where student go to get their stethoscopes when starting their course. It can be a daunting task choosing a new stethoscope but with some research suitable models can be found online and even price comparison sites now have feeds from many leading medical supply stores - alternatively try specialist shops such as Medisave in the UK or Medisave USA


AZReam said...

There are indeed many sensibly priced alternatives to Littmann - in particular the DRG / Trimline PureTone range, Riester's cardiophon and ER Premier models, and the great selection provided by MDF.

Online is certainly the way to go, but be sure to investigate what's included with a new stethoscope (SafeSEAL Diaphragms and GELseal eartips with the PureTone for example), and allow for the cost of shipping.

Some online stores will also offer discounts, free samples and extras - such as a Hip Clip Stethoscope Holder