OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the sphygmomanometers calibration accuracy and the physical conditions of the cuff-bladder, bulb, pump, and valve. METHODS: Sixty hundred and forty five aneroid sphygmomanometers were evaluated, 521 used in private practice and 124 used in hospitals. Aneroid manometers were tested against a properly calibrated mercury manometer and were considered calibrated when the error was <=3mm Hg. The physical conditions of the cuffs-bladder, bulb, pump, and valve were also evaluated. RESULTS: Of the aneroid sphygmomanometers tested, 51% of those used in private practice and 56% of those used in hospitals were found to be not accurately calibrated. Of these, the magnitude of inaccuracy ranged from 4 to 8mm Hg in 70% and 51% of the devices, respectively. The problems found in the cuffs - bladders, bulbs, pumps, and valves of the private practice and hospital devices were bladder damage (34% vs. 21%, respectively), holes/leaks in the bulbs (22% vs. 4%, respectively), and rubber aging (15% vs. 12%, respectively). Of the devices tested, 72% revealed at least one problem interfering with blood pressure measurement accuracy. CONCLUSION: Most of the manometers evaluated, whether used in private practice or in hospitals, were found to be inaccurate and unreliable, and their use may jeopardize the diagnosis and treatment of arterial hypertension
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