Frequently Asked Questions

General Enquiries

Website Material

Blood Pressure Measurement

Blood Pressure Monitors

For Manufacturers/Distributors of Blood Pressure Monitors




  • How do I get permission to reproduce material from your website?
    Permission is normally granted for educational purposes as long as the material is accurately reproduced and the source is acknowledged.  If the material has been published, then permission should also be sought from the relevant publisher.  If you need further information please contact the Information service  Tel 07717 467973 e-mail bihs@le.ac.uk 
  • Where can I find an up-to-date CVD risk calculator on the BHS website?
    The BHS is a member of the Joint British Societies (JBS). The JBS2 (Heart 2005; 91 (Suppl V): V1-52) CV Risk Assessor software is available to download from the Heart UK website with kind permission of Professor Paul Durrington. Please click on the following link:


  • Do you have any guidelines on the correct way to measure blood pressure?
    Click here for guidelines
  • How many readings do I have to take when measuring blood pressure and how do I record them.  Which one do I use?
    Two measurements should be taken (1-2 minutes apart), the initial value being discarded if there is a large (>10mmHg) difference between the first and subsequent readings and further measurements made.
  • When measuring blood pressure, should the tubes of the cuff bladder be pointing up or down?
    If you are using a manual blood pressure monitor, it is sensible to position the tubes to the top of the cuff so that they don't interfere with the stethoscope.  If you are using an automatic device then it doesn't matter which way up you use the cuff.  Some cuffs are conically shaped i.e. larger at the top than the bottom to fit the shape of the upper arm.  In this case there is only one way to fit with tubes downwards.
  • How do I know which cuff size to use?
    The bladder of the cuff should fit around at least 80% of the arm but not more than 100%.  A cuff that does not fit properly will not give an accurate reading so it is important to use the right size.

    BP cuff sizes for manual sphygmomanometer, automatic and ambulatory monitors

 Width (cm)*# Bladder Length (cm)*# BHS Guidelines Bladder width & Length (cm) Arm Circumference (cm)
Small Adult/ Child 10-12 18-24 12 x 18  23
Standard Adult 12-13 23-35 12 x 26  33
Large Adult 12-16 35-40 12 x 40  50

* The range for columns 2 and 3 are derived from recommendations for the British Hypertension Society (BHS), European Hypertension Society (ESH) and the American Heart Association.  Columns 4 and 5 are derived from only the BHS Guidelines.  ** Large bladders for arm circumferences over 42 cm may be required.  # Bladders of varying sizes are available so a range is provided for each indication (applies to columns 2 and 3)

  • A large cuff is still too small.  What should I do?
    Contact the manufacturer of the blood pressure monitor.  They may be able to supply an extra large cuff. 


  • Can you recommend a blood pressure monitor for me to buy?
    There is a list of BHS approved monitors on the website. Click here for home use and here for clinical use.  The list is impartial so we are not able to make a specific recommendation.
  • How do you select blood pressure monitors for your recommended list?
    The BHS Blood Pressure Measurement Working Party will consider the report of a clinical validation study on a blood pressure monitor that has been published in a peer reviewed journal.  If the study has been performed strictly in accordance with the BHS Revised Protocol, the International Protocol (1 or 2) and/or the AAMI protocol and the device has been shown to give accurate readings, then the Working Party will approve the device for inclusion in the list on the BHS website.  The Working Party reviews newly published papers on a regular basis but there will be some delay between the publication and a decision on whether or not to list the device.
  • The blood pressure monitor I want to buy is not on your list of recommended devices.  Why not?
    Either the published report on a successful validation study is currently under review, the Working Party has not been satisfied that the protocol criteria have been strictly followed  or, as far as the BHS is aware, there has been no published report on a successful validation study performed on the monitor. 
  • How often should my blood pressure monitor be calibrated/serviced and who can do this for me?
    The manufacturer's recommendations should be followed. 
  • Is it still OK to use aneroid and mercury blood pressure monitors?
    Aneroid monitors can be used as long as they are regularly calibrated (every 6 months) as they have a tendency to lose accuracy with use.  Mercury sphygmomanometers are being gradually phased out but can still be used when an automatic device is not suitable e.g. in atrial fibrillation, pregnancy etc.  All blood pressure monitors should be serviced and calibrated at regular intervals.


  • How can I get a blood pressure monitor added to the BHS recommended list?
    Click here