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Advice from the BP Measurement Experts

Choosing an OEM Partner: 3 Ingredients to a Successful Partnership

oem partnershipIn our last OEM technology blog post, we discussed things to consider when deciding whether to work with an OEM clinical technology vendor.  If thinking through these issues encourages you to investigate further, here are three key ingredients to identifying the right partner who will give you the best chance for your ideas and products to succeed in today’s dynamic healthcare marketplace.
As you might expect from a partnership, the first two ingredients depend largely on the partners!

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Top 7 Reasons to Use Disposable BP Cuffs to Reduce the Transmission of HAI's

HAIsThere have been decades of research on the transmission of Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) throughout healthcare settings.  Studies have shown patients can be exposed to HAIs from contaminated healthcare workers’ attire, environmental surfaces (cabinets, bedrails, countertops, etc.), and reusable medical equipment.7,8  Therefore, many healthcare facilities have implemented Infection Prevention and Control programs to help reduce the spread of HAIs.  Some of the strategies employed to help control HAIs include hand washing and the use of disposable items, such as disposable blood pressure cuffs. With that in mind, the following is an abbreviated list of the “Top 7 Reasons to Use Disposable BP Cuffs to Reduce the Transmission of Healthcare-Associated Infections.”  To download our free ebook version with more in-depth information, pleaseclick here

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In-Office Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring: Could it replace traditional office BP assessment?

traditional doctors officeThat’s just the question Dr. Mark C. van der Wel and colleagues sought the answer to in an article published in the Annals of Family Medicine. As we at SunTech have mentioned in previous posts, two of the most prevalent problems with traditional in-office blood pressure assessment is improper observer technique and the white-coat effect.  As a way to overcome this, the authors developed a method of taking a series of in-office automated oscillometric blood pressure readings for 30 minutes by utilizing an ambulatory blood pressure monitor (ABPM) and compared those results with mean daytime ABPM results.

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3 Practical Tips for Acquiring Representative BP Measurements

BP Measurement TipsQuite a lot has been said in clinical circles about the best way to assess a person’s blood pressure. Manual? Oscillometric? During office visits? At home? Over 24-hours? Average? Trend? Peak? At times, the debate has gotten pretty hot. In a recent issue of the journal Hypertension, Drs. George Stergiou and Gianfranco Parati published an editorial that proposes a more practical approach.

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MRSA BEWARE: Honey Can Potentially Reverse Antibiotic Resistance

manuka tree and honey beeAs a manufacturer of disposable blood pressure cuffs, we are always interested in new information concerning infection control and potential ways to control antibiotic resistant bacteria (“superbugs”). Since superbugs are creating a serious and growing global threat to public health, the World Health Organization has made antibiotic resistance the central focus of this year’s World Health Day. Furthermore, the Infectious Disease Society of America (ISDA) warns that “unless sweeping actions are taken now, the future could resemble the days before these miracle drugs were developed. People will die of common infections and many medical interventions we take for granted – surgery, chemotherapy, organ transplantation, and premature infant care – will no longer be possible.”

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Top 5 Factors To Consider When Deciding Whether To Use an OEM Technology Supplier

problem solutionThe SunTech blog was established as a discussion place about blood pressure (BP) measurement because that's what we do. Naturally, we have tried to share our understanding of the clinical application experiences with using automated BP measurement in practicing medicine. However, we also partner with other manufacturers to integrate OEM NIBP technology in their medical devices. Some of these are patient monitors that you see in all parts of the hospital. But some of the more specialized devices are used to save lives in an ambulance or Lifeflight, on commercial airline flights, and even in the battlefield. Regardless of the application, these companies all considered whether they should buy, build, or partner in order to achieve their goals. Here are the top five factors companies should consider when deciding whether to use an OEM technology supplier:

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Korotkoff Sounds vs. Oscillometric BP Measurement

sphygmomanometerOne thing we like to do at the SunTech blog is share debates and comparisons of automated vs. manual auscultatory blood pressure measurements. The latest comes from an article published in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension earlier this year. This evaluation compared one particular automated oscillometric device with the results from the auscultatory method of listening for Korotkoff sounds during cuff deflation. The authors’ aim was to help readers better understand the fundamental differences between these two methods and illustrate how that might assist clinicians in effectively controlling and managing hypertensive patients.


Understanding that there is a dramatic difference between these two methods is, in fact, an important consideration of which clinicians should be aware. The auscultatory method has been the standard method of determining BP for over 100 years and relies on the observer to detect the audible sounds (Korotkoff sounds) that occur during constricted blood flow. The oscillometric method, employed by most clinical-grade automated BP devices, analyzes pulse waves collected from the cuff during constricted blood flow. In this case, the cuff is the sensor. The auscultatory and oscillometric methods are two very different approaches to determining the same vital sign.

Each method also presents its own unique set of challenges. The manual auscultatory method is prone to poor technique, observer digit bias and poor hearing (often unbeknownst to the observer). The oscillometric method can be prone to errors when there is too much patient arm movement.  In addition, each medical device manufacturer uses their own proprietary algorithm for acquiring blood pressure measurements so BP readings may vary significantly between devices which makes it important to shop around for a clinical grade device that is validated to industry standards such as the AAMI SP10 protocol.

Being aware of these differences and limitations can certainly be of help to clinicians when making hypertension treatment decisions. For further information on some of the challenges and best practices when taking an auscultatory blood pressure measurement, be sure to check out our e-book “10 Steps to Accurate Blood Pressure Measurement”. We also invite you to share your comments and experiences when comparing automated and manual BP measurements.

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Move Over MRSA & C.Diff, There is a New Superbug in Town

New Superbug BacteriaMost people have heard about the more popular “superbugs” (antibiotic resistance bacteria) such as MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) and C.Diff (Clostridium Difficile). But now there is a “new” superbug starting to get alot of attention: NDM-1.

So what exactly is NDM-1 and how is it transmitted? How can disposable blood pressure cuffs play a role in combating this and other infections? These questions, and more, are answered below:

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Regulatory Changes: Are you prepared?

Street sign at the corner of Healthcare End and Reform WayThe regulatory world is changing. Countries are examining and changing the rules and regulations that govern the way businesses interact and make an impact. In the US, with his editorial article in the Wall Street Journal and his State of the Union Address, President Obama makes a clear message about government regulatory systems. He wants balance between commerce & safety, progress & common sense. Obama calls for regulations to be reviewed so that the US “(protects its) safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth.” While the call to update regulations is clear, the balance that is called for lies in a well-known, well-trodden, broad, gray area. It’s this same area that all countries are trying to define, regulate, and enforce for the good of their citizens.

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Concord grape juice lowers BP? Not so fast!

concord grape juiceThe New Year is upon us and a lot of us have declared to get healthier in 2011.  Whether you have started a new workout regimen or have changed your diet to consume more fruits and veggies, any change is good change, right?  Growing up in North Carolina, where we fry everything from chicken to green beans, I was never fond of eating healthy so my mother always stressed the importance of “drinking your juice” instead of so many soft drinks.  However, recent research may shed some light on the effects of juice consumption.  Being that SunTech Medical is your one-stop shop for blood pressure (BP) measurement expertise, let’s explore the effects juice consumption has on BP!

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SunTech's Blood Pressure Technology Logs Over 2 Decades of Space Exploration

SunTech Accutracker II on NASA flightTraditionally, we try not to engage in excessive self-promotion on the SunTech Blog. But last month marked the 24th anniversary of SunTech’s first journey into space, and we’d like to let our readers know about this important and interesting chapter in our history. In the pre-dawn darkness of January 12, 1986, the space shuttle Columbia blasted off from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, carrying with it a special version of the SunTech Accutracker II ABPM device. When Columbia landed successfully at Edwards Air Force base after 98 orbits, it may have marked the end of mission STS-61C, but it was just the beginning of SunTech’s foray into space-based research.

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Blood Pressure Monitoring in Critically Ill Patients

­­bp for icu patientsWhen it comes to treating critically-ill patients in hospitals, you’d think there’d be consensus on how to monitor their blood pressure. But a recent article appearing in the Journal of Critical Care Medicine casts some doubt on that assertion.

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What is a "Long" Blood Pressure Cuff?

Long size BP cuffAs a manufacturer of blood pressure (BP) cuffs, we are often asked: “What is the difference between an Adult BP cuff (or “standard” cuff) and an Adult Long BP cuff?”

Simply put, a “long” cuff has the same range indicators and bladder size as a “standard” cuff, but the actual length is longer than that of a “standard” cuff.  Therefore, a “long” cuff is able to fit on a larger patient population than a “standard”  cuff.

You are probably asking yourself, “If the range and the bladder size is the same on both a “standard cuff” and a “long cuff”, do they both give accurate readings?”


To answer this question, you need to understand the “80/40” rule.  The “80/40” rule states that in order to obtain an accurate blood pressure measurement, the cuff bladder length should be approximately 80% of the circumference of the upper arm and the cuff bladder width should be optimally 40% of the circumference of the upper arm.  The basic reasoning behind this rule is that the cuff bladder must be able to occlude the brachial artery (obstruct the flow of blood through the artery) when the bladder is inflated.  If the brachial artery is not completely occluded before you start to deflate the bladder, then you will hear the Korotkoff sounds earlier which will result in false high readings.  On the other hand, if the bladder size is too big for the arm, then it will take longer to hear the Korotkoff sounds which will result in false low readings.

So if a “long cuff’ is used on a patient with an arm circumference that fits in the intended range of the cuff, then an accurate blood pressure measurement can be expected.  However, if a “long cuff” is used on a patient with an arm circumference outside the intended range of the cuff, even if the cuff fits the arm of the patient, you risk obtaining inaccurate blood pressure measurements.

While we have kept customer demand in mind by making the long sized cuff available, we recommend always using best practices for obtaining an accurate blood pressure reading.  You can read “10 Steps to Accurate Manual BP Measurement” for a detailed guide for obtaining a high quality reading.  In addition, we highly recommend the following video tutorial for proper cuff sizing.

 

 

If you have experiences using "long" versions of blood pressure cuffs, we invite you to share your thoughts with us.

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Video: Consumer Reports Tests Home BP monitors

Home BP Consumer ReportThis news video reports on a clinical evaluation of select Home BP monitors recently completed by Consumer Reports. We were not surprised to see, among their findings, that the wrist monitors evaluated were not as accurate as upper arm monitors. We were encouraged that the video seems to indicate the evaluation was administered by two observers taking auscultatory readings with a stethoscope and mercury column where those results would serve as the basis to compare the automated monitors' results. This is truly the best method for performing clinical evaluations of automated, non-invasive BP monitoring technologies.

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Let's Bring in the New Year in Moderation

BP and alcoholAlthough some people like to “indulge” in alcoholic beverages to help bring in the New Year, you may want to take it easy if you have high blood pressure.  While it is common knowledge that high blood pressure increases your risk of cardiovascular diseases and that excessive drinking is not beneficial to your body; the combination of the two may be double trouble.

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Man Protests Outside Drug Store Over Faulty BP Monitor

Man ProtestingWe recently came across an article reporting on a man in Grand Forks, North Dakota, who is so upset about the erroneously high readings from his new BP monitor that he spent three days protesting outside the store he purchased it from*.

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The Psychology vs the Science of Blood Pressure

guessHave you ever been to a "Guess your age" booth at an amusement park?  If you are able to fool the person guessing the age of passers-by within a couple of years you win a stuffed animal or toy. Well believe it or not, clinicians occasionally do this to their patients.  Not for age, but for blood pressure.  Glenn Nyback, an EMT teacher, recounts a personal experience from one of his classes:

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Watching Your Favorite Sports May Be Bad for Your Blood Pressure

sports fan blood pressure riseHave you ever caught yourself yelling at the television when your favorite team drops a touchdown pass in the end zone or makes a fielding error late in the game?  We’re all guilty of it.  However, I feel obligated to share some bad news.  First, the coaches and players cannot hear you from the confines of your living room, and second, research shows that there is a direct link between spectator sports and an increased risk of cardiovascular (CV) events.  Dr. Franklin Zimmerman, from Phelps Memorial Hospital Center, recently published an article in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension investigating the blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) response of baseball and football fans both before and during games.

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Clinician Beware of Smartphone Health Apps

iStethoscopeDo you have a smartphone? Have you downloaded any apps that help you track or measure your own vital signs information—like blood pressure, heart rate, or glucose level? If you’re a health care professional, maybe you’ve downloaded apps that help you measure and stay informed about your patients’ vitals.  Either way, mobile healthcare-related apps are creating significant buzz within the mobile computing industry. Figures vary for the size of the home health and telehealth markets, but nobody questions that the number is in the billions of dollars, and such sweet numbers inevitably attract lots of bees.

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10 Things to Look for When Purchasing Reusable Cuffs

Blood Pressure Cuff Check ListIn a recent blog post, we took a look at the various types of blood pressure cuffs available on the market. One of four main types of blood pressure cuffs is the reusable cuff. Given that there are many different manufacturers of reusable blood pressure cuffs with many different options, the selection process can be difficult.  So what do you look for when purchasing a reusable cuff?  Below, we have listed the top 10 features to look for when purchasing a reusable cuff:


  1. Durability: Reusable cuffs must be made with a durable material that will be able to withstand multiple inflations, multiples times per day, on multiple patients and used in a variety of applications (i.e. hemodialysis, EMS, primary care offices, hospitals, etc).
  2. Patient Comfort: Even though reusable cuffs need to be durable; they must also be comfortable to the patient.  If the cuff is uncomfortable, patients will probably let you know and resultant patient movement during a reading may lead to multiple re-inflates or error codes.
  3. Cleaning and Disinfecting: Since reusable cuffs are used on multiple patients, it is extremely important that these cuffs are washed on a regular basis (preferably after every patient).  This is especially true today since several studies have identified blood pressure cuffs as potential vehicles for transmission of nosocomial infections (i.e. MRSA, C-diff, etc).
  4. Range of Cuff Sizes: It is extremely important to make sure that a manufacturer makes a full range of cuff sizes.  There is a big difference in upper arm circumference between a child, a middle-aged man, and an elderly woman, so a medical facility should have the proper size cuffs to use on each patient.
  5. Color-Coding: Most cuff manufacturers color-code their cuffs to help medical professional quickly chose the right size cuff for a patient.  Most manufacturers follow the same color coding schemes for each size cuff, which is shown in the table below:
    Cuff Size Color
    Infant Orange
    Child/ Child Long Green
    Small Adult / Small Adult Long Light Blue
    Adult / Adult Long Navy Blue
    Large Adult / Large Adult Long Burgundy
    Thigh Brown
  6. Range Markings: A cuff must have range markers on the inside or outside, (or preferably both), of the cuff to indicate if the correct size is being used on a patient.  Using an incorrectly sized cuff often results in inaccurate blood pressure measurements.
  7. Latex Free & PVC Free: To minimize risk of adverse reactions to latex and to promote patient safety, reusable cuffs should be free of latex and PVC.
  8. Reliable Performance:  The last thing you want to happen when you purchase a blood pressure cuff is to have it leak.  Therefore, look for a cuff manufacturer that leak tests their cuffs on a regular basis.
  9. Regulatory Requirements: All blood pressure cuffs should be designed and validated to the AHA (American Heart Association) and the AAMI (Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation) standards.  These standards provide recommendations for cuff sizing, life cycle of the cuff, maximum inflation, etc.
  10. Warranty:  Most cuff manufacturers have a 2 or 3 three year warranty on their reusable cuffs.  Of course, this doesn’t mean they will replace cuffs with normal wear and tear.  If the cuff leaks, rips, or tears, then you should be able to return the cuff under warranty with no hassle.

Whether you are a distributor, physician, nurse, or in materials management and responsible for purchasing blood pressure cuffs, it is good to know the features and benefits of reusable cuffs so you can make an informed decision on which brand of cuff you would like to purchase and use at your facility.  If you have any additional features you would like to add to the list, please leave us a comment below.

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