Definition of high blood pressure
What to do in case of hypertension?
For a better understanding of blood pressure The follow-up of a high blood pressure
High blood pressure damage High blood pressure and special cases
Why does high blood pressure exist? The self-measurement of blood pressure
How to measure high blood pressure? About Us
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V - How to measure high blood pressure?

5.1 - The most reliable method: to place a probe measuring the pressure directly in the artery
5.2 - The most useful method: The measure of the blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer with a cuff
Measurement of the blood pressure
5.3 - At rest at the doctors
5.4 - At rest at home, using a self-measurement device

5.5 - During a physical exercise
5.6 - Measurement by an ambulatory monitoring of the blood pressure during 24 hours
Description of the device
5.7 - The cuff
5.8 - Method for the measurement of the blood pressure
5.9 - The sphygmomanometer

5.7 - The cuff

The cuff is a very significant element in the measurement of the arterial blood pressure. Thus, this device must be of good quality and adapted to the circumference of the arm.

For that, there are various sizes of cuff: a small size for the children, a normal size for the adults and a large one for the subjects with a large arm.

The cuff contains an inflatable pocket (the bladder) which, when it is sufficiently inflated, compresses the artery of the arm (humeral artery).

The width of the bladder must be adapted to the circumference of the arm: classically, this width must be equal to at least 40% of the circumference of the arm. Thus, a bladder of 12 centimetres in width must be proposed on a subject whose arm’s circumference is equal to 30 centimetres.


The widths of the bladder for a child, an adult and an obese patient are respectively 9, 12 and 15 centimetres. A few manufacturers proposed mixed cuff, containing a pocket of 9 cm and 12 cm in the same cuff (" Bi-cuff ") or 12 and 15 cm.

The width of the cuff is of primary importance in the measurement of the blood pressure because mistakes can occur if an unsuited cuff is used. Thus, if the blood pressure is measured with a " normal " cuff (diameter of the bladder = 12 cm) on a subject with a fat arm, the blood pressure will be overestimated.

The reverse is also valid for the children or subjects whose arm is very thin. If the blood pressure is measured using a " normal " cuff instead of a smaller cuff (inflatable pocket of 9 cm) the blood pressure is then underestimated.

This concept is very important to avoid considering a patient is hypertensive while he is not, just because a too small cuff has been used.

In order to adapt the cuff to the arm, the manufacturers propose a marking-system on the bladder: a dotted line on one extremity of the bladder must be placed during the rolling up of the cuff around the arm between the two full lines drawn on the other extremity of the cuff.

Using these reference marks, the errors are minimized.

File last reviewed on : 18 dec 2011
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