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#1
Old 08-16-2012, 07:52 PM
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Irregular heart beat symbol on BP machines. Accuracy?

My parents have an OMRON BP mointor for home use. My mother uses it often to check her BP. Its pretty good mostly. About a month ago the irregular heartbeat symbol came on during a routine test. Well the manufacturer's manual said that if it comes on take the measurement again and she did and it was fine. Put it down to a faulty reader. Fast forward to last night. She checks it and the machine again lights up the dreaded symbol. Recheck 5 minutes later and all clear.

This is not an attempt to get medical advice. I just want to ask those who have experience with this thing, how accurate is it? I know home BP machines can sometimes give widely inaccurate readings, is this true for irregular heart beat symbols as well?
#2
Old 08-16-2012, 08:04 PM
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Can't really answer your question, I'm just wondering if "irregular" means something like a heart-murmur, or that the pulse rate was too variable during the period of measurement.

Does the manual shed any light on what it means?
#3
Old 08-16-2012, 08:08 PM
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The manual says the symbol will light up if two or more irregular beats are detected during a cycle. The advice is to simply retake the reading and almost as an afterthought they say that if it comes often, see a Doctor.
#4
Old 08-16-2012, 08:15 PM
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With my machine the irregular heartbeat comes up every once in a while. It often seems to be associated with the cuff being poorly placed on my arm and is usually accompanied by BP readings that are different from what I normally get.

I think that it means that the machine did not hear your pulse well and you should try again.
#5
Old 08-16-2012, 08:24 PM
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I have no expertise here, but there is a common sense position and it is this: That facility is almost certainly there for a reason. If all it did was set off randomly on perfectly healthy individuals and those at death's dorr alike, then it would be completely useless.

Thefore I would definitely be concerned.
#6
Old 08-16-2012, 08:36 PM
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I don't have any hard numbers, just anecdote...but it's kind of a lot of anecdote, because I use a home model automatic blood pressure cuff 5-10 times a day on a lot of different people. Home health nurse.

Auto BP cuffs are very good at detecting irregular heartbeat in patients who have an irregular heartbeat. Unfortunately, they're also good at detecting an irregular heartbeat in someone who doesn't - someone who wiggles his/her fingers, or coughs, or tenses and relaxes his/her arm or who doesn't have the thing placed correctly. (Yes, the part marked "artery" really does need to be in the neighborhood of the artery. Not right over it, but within an inch or so.)

I would never, ever, use a home BP cuff to diagnose a heart arrhythmia. But if it came up and I checked again after making sure the placement was right and they were still during the check and it still showed an irregular heartbeat, I'd suggest the patient go see their cardiologist and have an EKG done to see what's up. It could be anything from "nothing" to too much caffeine that day to an actual cardiac condition that needs treatment. I would ask them if they're having any other symptoms of dangerous arrhythmias, like feeling their heart racing, feeling fatigued, short of breath, a heavy feeling in their chest, nausea, pain, etc. I'd look carefully at their mouth and nose and fingernails to see if anything was bluish. I'd ask them to walk with me down a long hallway and see if they tire more easily than normal. I'd check their pulse - I'm more worried about an irregular and rapid heartrate than just an irregular one. If anything concerned me at that point, I'd probably suggest they get a ride the ER or urgent care now. If they seemed okay, I'd probably suggest they make an appointment with their MD within the week - but it would depend on their health history, medications and other conditions.
#7
Old 08-16-2012, 08:43 PM
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So an occasional irregular reading is not that useful especially if the next reading is clear? That what the manual seems to be suggesting.
#8
Old 08-16-2012, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AK84 View Post
So an occasional irregular reading is not that useful especially if the next reading is clear? That what the manual seems to be suggesting.
Correct.

But if it happens too often (several times a week), I'd bring it up at her next office visit.
#9
Old 08-17-2012, 01:55 PM
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I only work with in-hospital equipment, but artifact is a regular occurence there. The machines are designed with a conservative alarm threshold because false positives are better than false negatives.
#10
Old 08-17-2012, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voltaire View Post
Can't really answer your question, I'm just wondering if "irregular" means something like a heart-murmur, or that the pulse rate was too variable during the period of measurement.

Does the manual shed any light on what it means?
It is pretty much impossible to detect a heart murmur via a blood pressure machine. The best is with an ECHO, but short of that, listening to the chest with a stethoscope will usually pick it up. BP machines are not going to be very accurate about picking up irregular heart beats. If you palpate your pulse, you can usually feel the irregular heart beats, but bear in mind having the occasional extra beat is pretty normal. If you are still concerned about it, I would get an EKG or better yet a 24 hour Holter monitor test.
#11
Old 02-19-2016, 12:33 AM
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This certainly must be preceeded by a disclaimer that all potential heart conditions should be treated seriously, but in my case that stupid Intellisense alarm has caused me more harm than good. If you get that alert if you take your blood pressure at the same time every day and you suddenly start seeing it, I'd follow up on it.

If you're taking your blood pressure in reaction to feeling funny and you have no reason to believe you might have a heart condition, you're probably fine. It's just detecting how evenly spaced out your heartbeats are so if you take it because you feel anxious it's going to be unreliable. In my case, I often remember to take my blood pressure if I'm feeling very tense, but when I feel that way I'm trying to calm myself down. In those moments, my heart rate is speeding up and slowing down all the time and once I see that irregular alert show up, whatever anxiety I felt before is suddenly doubled and down the rabbit hole I go.

Today was the second time I went to see my Dr. to get an ECG in the past six years. I was fine and I was triggering the BP monitor irregular alarm right before I walked in to get the ECG. The first time I went through this was almost six years ago. I was so shaken by the warnings from my BP monitor that on top of the ECG, I got a full workup done including a stress test and a three week continous monitor study. I had a couple of episodes during the continuous ECG. Nothing. It was just anxiety.

I'm in pretty good health and I do very strenuous exercise regularly. With the cardiac workups I've received combined with my state of health, I really need to ignore that alert.

I just wanted to toss this out there because nobody wants to say, "you're probably fine" when it has something to do with the heart. I wouldn't either, but if you've followed up on those warnings and checked out ok and are otherwise in good health, it's probably time to stop obsessing about that alert.

Last edited by smirking; 02-19-2016 at 12:35 AM.
#12
Old 02-19-2016, 01:33 AM
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I used to have that come up quite often, but then I had paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, which is exactly what that is designed to detect, so there you go. I'm sure that in the last several years your mother has addressed her issues. If it was A-fib, if you have to have cardiac arrhythmia, that's the best kind of arrhythmia to have, so well done.

It's relatively common in older people and can be asymptomatic. The most serious complication is having a blood clot form in the heart and then travel into the lungs or the brain causing a pulmonary embolism or stroke. This would be bad.

It hardly ever gets better by itself. It will often resolve spontaneously, but return. Over the years I had it the periods of normal sinus rhythm became shorter and shorter, eventually progressing from paroxysmal to chronic A-fib. There are some ablation therapies that can help, but I ended up with a pacemaker. There are medications that might help, but they didn't help in my case.
#13
Old 02-19-2016, 09:20 AM
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No the machine in no way says there is any illless....
It could just be movement of the arm interfering.

It doesn't prove there is isn't any illness, but the error just says "Relax for five minutes, then try again".
#14
Old 12-20-2016, 04:23 PM
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Iphone app for ECG

I had a heart calcium score which showed severe calcification of the corona arteries. O symptoms and fit 70 year old.

I got an iPhone ECG gizmo - Kardia- which has 2 metal plates - touch the plates and get an ECG. The app does an analysis of your reading - so far all normal. Fits on the back of my iphone. Needed a bit of surgery on the case with a Stanley knife but fits neatly and unobtrusively.

I have got the occasional heart symbol on my Omron and immediately do an ECG - reported normal. If I am still concerned I emai off to a specialist reading - done within the app at a very reasonable fee - still normal.

My GP has checked against his ECG machine and he is happy the iphone app is accurate.

He told me recently about another patient whose AFIB was picked up by the Iphone app which would otherwise have continued undetected.

I use and recommend this gizmo for anyone who would like to learn more about their heart.

I do all this under supervision of my GP who monitors BP readings and tweaks meds.
#15
Old 12-21-2016, 12:31 PM
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It would be worth checking out if the irregular heart beat lights up. But I personally wouldn't set much store by it. There are many types of irregular beats from benign to very dangerous. A 12 lead ECG is obviously much more informative.
#16
Old 12-21-2016, 04:19 PM
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While this thread is alive once more:

WHERE is the Artery the cuff wants?

I also have a self-inflating Amron and get some weird readings from time to almost always time.

I understand wanting the cuff at the same level as the heart - but where is the artery?
I'm thinking it's at the inside bottom of the arm - where you can't really see it unless very limber.

I've just been placing it to the tubing is in more-or-less the same position the nurse puts the pro model cuff's tube.

Close enough?
#17
Old 12-21-2016, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usedtobe View Post
While this thread is alive once more:

WHERE is the Artery the cuff wants?

I also have a self-inflating Amron and get some weird readings from time to almost always time.

I understand wanting the cuff at the same level as the heart - but where is the artery?
I'm thinking it's at the inside bottom of the arm - where you can't really see it unless very limber.

I've just been placing it to the tubing is in more-or-less the same position the nurse puts the pro model cuff's tube.

Close enough?
Get the marking above the middle of your inner elbow, and you'll be close enough. If you have an extraordinarily wide arm, then get it a little closer to your trunk than away from your trunk as your arm is positioned palm up. What you're trying to do here is center the bladder on the big arteries above your elbow, but there's a little room for slop. (If there isn't, then you may need a bigger cuff.)

Last edited by WhyNot; 12-21-2016 at 07:44 PM.
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