Cuff Size Matters

Blood pressure monitors with an upper arm cuff provide the most accurate blood pressure readings but using the correct cuff size is really important in order to avoid inaccurate results.

Ensure the cuff is the correct size

If the cuff you use is too small for the arm, your blood pressure reading will be artificially high. If your cuff is too large, you may get a lower-than-actual reading. This is known as miscuffing.

On people with big arms, a large cuff is needed and as a general rule the inflatable bladder in the cuff needs to encircle at least 80% of the arm. The width of the cuff should be at least 40% of the arm circumference.

Measure your arm

To make sure you are using the correct size cuff for your arm place a tape measure around the bicep, at mid-arm to measure the arm circumference in cm. The left arm is typically used.

Typical cuff sizes

Not all blood pressure monitors can use different sizes of cuffs. Check with us first to make sure your digital A&D Medical UA and UM series or Meditech ABPM device can.

Typical cuff size ranges are as follows but can vary by manufacturer. For A&D UA series monitors the following cuff sizes are available.

  • Small fits an upper arm between 16-24 cm
  • Adult fits an upper arm between 22-32 cm
  • Semi-large fits an upper arm between 23-37 cm
  • Wide range fits an upper arm between 22-42 cm
  • Large adult fits an upper arm between 31-45 cm

Wide range cuffs like that supplied with the A&D Medical UA-1020-W are becoming popular with clinicians as one cuff can be used across a wider arm circumference range. This monitor can also use a small cuff.

All A&D Medical and Meditech cuffs have visual range markers to make cuff positioning easier and ensure the correct size is used. When applied correctly the cuff should wrap snugly around the arm with just enough space to slide two fingertips underneath.

One cuff does not fit all and using the correct cuff size is important both for healthcare professionals in a clinical setting and the public when buying monitors for home use.

The ISO 80369-5 BP Cuff Standard

ISO80369-5 was developed as an international standard to prevent cuff connection errors with different types of medical devices that use the same or similar connectors. Whilst connection errors were few and far between they could have fatal consequences.

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reported several real life incidents involving misconnections.

In one a blood pressure cuff was accidentally connected to an Intra Venous (IV) catheter.

A patient had an IV catheter in their arm but no IV fluids had been started. The patient also had an automatic BP cuff fitted on the same arm for continuous monitoring. The BP cuff tubing was disconnected from the blood pressure monitor while the patient went to the bathroom.

When she returned, her spouse accidentally connected the BP cuff tube to the IV catheter and approximately 15 mL of air was delivered to the IV catheter by the blood pressure monitor.

Unfortunately the patient died from a fatal air embolus, despite resuscitation efforts.

As a precaution and so this can’t happen again new ISO connectors are being introduced on blood pressure cuffs to ensure correct device connections, even in complex working environments and avoiding fatal consequences.

Japanese company A&D Medical are one of the first manufacturers of clinically validated digital blood pressure monitors to have introduced ISO-80369-5 connectors to their blood pressure cuffs and monitors.

The latest UA-651SL Plus is compliant with the ISO80369-5 regulation. It features A&D Medicals latest 4th generation Electric Control Exhaust Valve (ECEV) which precisely controls cuff deflation.

This low cost digital monitor can use 4 different cuff sizes for arm sizes ranging between 16cm – 45cm, including small, adult and large cuffs.

In the UA-651SL Plus A&D Medical are one of the few manufacturers to have a model that can use small, adult and large adult cuffs.

It’s important to note that ISO80369-5 cuffs cannot be used with non-compliant ISO80369-5 blood pressure monitors and they are not interchangeable with earlier models.