How can I take blood pressure when she says it hurts?

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Mom (97 yr old) says that it hurts when Dr or anyone tries to take her blood pressure as the cuff is pumped up? I can't do it, the nurse can't do it. She won't let us. Now what?

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Hi needtowashhair, yep you are correct then- the people using the wrist cuff do not follow those directions-that could be it. But in my experience no, the wrist monitors were not correct.
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Reply to Shane1124
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Shane1124, I have a variety of blood pressure meters including wrist meters. The wrist meters are just as accurate if used properly. A basic understanding of physics helps. In order to get the same reading in a pipe, you have to measure it at the same elevation. In the case of blood pressure, that's at the same elevation as the heart. For an arm cuff, that's easy. Where the cuff is on a hanging arm just happens to be at the same elevation as the heart. So to get the same reading with a wrist meter, you have to hold the meter at the same elevation as the heart. Most people don't do that. They just let their wrist fall down to a comfortable spot. Used properly, a wrist meter is just as accurate as an arm cuff. I can take a measurement with an arm meter and get the same reading with a wrist meter within a few points. No two readings will be exactly the same even on the same meter.
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Reply to needtowashhair
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I’m interested in the posters’ questions about why this is necessary at all. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, had lots of monitoring both at home and with the doctor (including one that went automatically for 24 hours and woke me up every hour in the night). I was put on medication that took a while to stabilise without causing other problems, but then got me down to ‘tolerable’. Since then I check occasionally at home to see if things are within my ‘normal’ range, and both myself and the doctor have stopped bothering much about it. My sister has been on similar drugs for about 30 years, and never checks at all herself. My mother had similar issues, including high cholesterol, so it appears to be genetic.

Checking blood pressure is one of those things that happens in hospital automatically, presumably because hospital patients are more likely to have a dangerous sudden change. I would ask more questions about why your mother needs to go through this frequently. Among other things, fear of pain is likely to put blood pressure through the roof all by itself!
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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I sympathize with mom! I have a fat upper arm with plenty of "waddle" under it. When that skin gets doubled over, it sends me over the top in agony. A large cuff helps as does not pumping it up so high - an automatic machine works much better for me because it does not keep going. These young assistants can't believe that my blood pressure is not sky high and try to pump it up to 200 and I end up screaming and in tears, which really does nothing for my bp accuracy. I'm interested in trying the cut off sleeve.
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Reply to surprise
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The wrist BP monitors are not accurate, in my experience. When I was a HomeCare RN I used to check mine against the wrist monitor’s reading and the wrist measurement was never correct.
Also I didn’t have a BP machine working home care; I took all my pressures manually the “old fashioned” way. While I wasn’t always sure the patient’s BP machine was accurate I was happy if the family had a BP machine as at least they were trying to monitor BP. 
Many cardiologists take the patient’s blood pressure manually on office visits as well.
Taking a blood pressure correctly is an art.
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Reply to Shane1124
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My Mom complained about the cuff too.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Thank you for your answers. I will check on a monitor that only goes a little higher than her pressure seems to be. She does have frail skin and I have wondered about the wrist cuff. I even thought of a FitBit type of thing, but don't know about the accuracy of them. I do know she has done some things for "attention," too so I wonder about the seriousness of the "pain." Sometimes she says it hurts before the nurse pumps the bulb twice. Bev
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Reply to bevinmn
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I think CW makes an excellent point, there. Unless you're in the middle of a crisis and your mother's BP has been rocketing around lately, I really would ask her doctor if these readings are worthwhile.

One other practical thing to mention - frail elderly skin on (sorry to be so disrespectful) often rather withered arms can easily get pinched in the cuff, and then of course it hurts like heck when the thing inflates. Jeanne's knitted sleeve should sort that out, but if it has happened before it might be that your mother is understandably anxious now and needs extra reassurance.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Uhm, at 97 what are you hoping to accomplish by taking her BP? When my mom had her medication changed I took readings often because I was afraid the doctor had made a mistake and her high BP would return and lead to a heart attack or stroke, but her doctor told me to stop worrying about it At that point - several years ago - mom was already considered palliative... she's 98 yrs old now.
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Reply to cwillie
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People with Dementia or Alzheimer's often DO NOT LIKE having their blood pressure checked. They tend to get upset if anything is put on their arm that squeezes their arm; so part of your problem might be that your Mom's Dementia/Alzheimer's is causing her to complain that the BP cuff hurts. Many Memory Care Units use the wrist monitors knowing that the BP results that they get will most likely never be accurate, but that it gives them a general idea of what the persons BP might be.

Are you using a electronic BP monitor that automatically takes a blood pressure, do you do it the "old fashion way" with a BP cuff and stethoscope. If you are using an electronic BP monitor, you want to use a monitor that you can change how high the BP cuff is inflated--for example, on some models you can choose "120, 140, 170, or 200" as the highest number that the monitor will inflate to. Choose the number that is slightly higher than your Mom's usual BP results. Some monitors will re-inflate to a higher number if the number that you have chosen is not high enough to "read" your Mom's current BP.

I have had the same problem with wrist BP monitors as Jeanne has. They are not as accurate as a regular BP cuff/monitor and as MargaretMcKen states, they have to be held in a certain position.

Another suggestion, similar to what Jeanne experienced, is that you put a cut off shirt sleeve over your Mom's arm before checking her blood pressure. Use a light weight long shirt sleeve that is cut off at the shoulder (or a light weight long sock with the foot cut off), put it on your Mom's arm, and then place the blood pressure cuff on her arm. Make sure that the shirt sleeve is under the entire cuff and that the cuff is ABOVE the elbow.

Sometimes a person's upper arm is short and when a BP cuff is placed on the upper arm, the bottom of the cuff is either over the elbow or just slightly above the elbow. When the BP cuff is inflated, the pressure from the BP cuff pinches the elbow and it feels like you hit your "funny bone"-- only more painful and the pain lasts as long as the cuff in inflated. Have your Mom rest her arm on the arm of a chair or on the table while you are checking her blood pressure.

I hope that these suggestions help.
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Reply to DeeAnna
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