What’s the Best Stethoscope for Blood Pressure Readings?

Looking for the best stethoscope for blood pressure readings? Blood pressure assessment is one of the most frequent health care tasks. That’s why it’s important to have a reliable stethoscope that makes assessment easy and accurate.

We’ve turned to the reviews of nurses and EMTs to help us locate the best stethoscope for blood pressure readings. And, with over 600 online reviews to study, we can say pretty definitively that we’ve found it: the Littmann Classic II S.E.

What makes the Classic II S.E. the best stethoscope for blood pressure readings?

Three factors are crucial when you’re taking blood pressure frequently. These are comfort and fit, noise blocking, and sound amplification. So let’s break it down:

Good fit and comfort

The Classic II S.E. weighs 125 grams. Compare this to the Omron Sprague Rappoport, which comes in at a very hefty 272 grams. That’s a huge difference when you’re wearing it around your neck for hours at a time. Reviewers also liked the Classic II’s soft earbuds, both for comfort and for the improved acoustics that come with a good fit.

Background noise

The best stethoscope for blood pressure readings will efficiently eliminate background noise. And no one knows background noise better than emergency medical personnel.  EMTs, paramedics, and emergency room nurses all find the Classic II S.E. to be a superior noise reducer.

Best Stethoscope for Blood Pressure

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Here’s what one Amazon reviewer had to say about the Classic II S.E.:

“Enables me as a medic to auscultate lung sounds, in a clear confident manner. In combination with a sphygmomanometer, auscultating BP’s in the field is accurate no matter what the noise level is around you. A step up for serious medical professionals both in pre-hospital, and clinical setting alike.” 

Sound amplification

3M Littmann gives the Classic II S.E. a rating of 7 out of 10 for sound quality. Steeles.com calls it “the industry standard.” And all over the internet, medical professionals rave about their ability to hear better with the Classic II S.E.

We think this Amazon review says it all:

“I’m not sure how I made it through my bsn and 3 years as a psych nurse w/o a better stethoscope. I’m just scared to think about all the murmurs I missed hearing with my old, heavy, painful Sprague. I can hear so much better now. The Littmann 2812 Classic II S.E. is light, comfortable in the ears, and stands out well in a sea of black stethoscopes.”

Doesn’t anyone have complaints about the Littmann Classic II S.E.?

Nothing is perfect ‒ not even the Classic II S.E.! In a total of 657 customer reviews, 59 users gave this scope a rating of 3 stars or below. The vast majority of complaints? Reviewers were disappointed with the color of their new stethoscope. The most common problems involve the color purple, so take note ‒ what Littmann calls purple is probably closer to blue.

Another frequent problem is purchasing from disreputable sellers. Buyers talked about receiving a Littmann knock-off instead of the real thing, or a used stethoscope instead of a new one. Be especially wary of this when you’re ready to make a purchase, and be sure to place your order with a reliable supplier.

The people really have spoken: the Littmann Classic II S.E. is far and away Amazon’s top selling stethoscope. With 506 5-star reviews, it’s also one of the best-rated. Medical professionals all over the world love this scope ‒ and we think you will, too.

What’s your favorite stethoscope? Let us know your opinion about the best stethoscope for blood pressure in the comments below.

How to Use a Stethoscope for Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure - How to Use a Stethoscope for Blood PressureAs a health care professional, it’s important to properly know how to use a stethoscope for blood pressure. Health care pros spend a lot of time taking blood pressure every day; and it’s easy to get into careless habits over time. In the interest of quality patient care, then, here’s a little tune-up and review of how to correctly use a stethoscope for blood pressure:

How to place the blood pressure cuff correctly

The first step in placing the cuff correctly is to locate the brachial pulse. There can be considerable variation from one patient to another, so avoid making assumptions. After you find it, place one finger directly over the pulse point and reach for the cuff with your other hand.

Now you can put the cuff on the patient’s arm. Align the artery label right above the pulse and leave about an inch between the cuff and the pulse point.

How to use a stethoscope for blood pressure

Before you start to inflate the cuff, place the stethoscope on your patient’s arm. Use some light pressure on the bell and then start inflating. Doing it this way gives you the opportunity to listen while the cuff is inflating.

Taking Blood Pressure - How to Use a Stethoscope for Blood PressureTake notice as soon as you hear the characteristic whooshing of the Korotkoff sounds. You’ll know exactly when to stop inflating the cuff when you hear the sounds stop.

How to take an accurate blood pressure reading

Use a nice, even drop rate for the most accurate results. If the needle is dropping too fast, you might end up with a falsely low systolic reading. If you let it go too slowly, your patient might fall asleep waiting for you.

Listen for the first audible whoosh ‒ that’s your systolic pressure ‒ and the last audible whoosh, which gives you the diastolic pressure. Remember to use your ears, and not your eyes. The needle on the pressure gauge will definitely show some bumps during the drop. But this may or not have any correlation with what you’re hearing. Using the needle alone will not give you an accurate reading.

An accurate blood pressure reading depends as much on your skills as it does on the quality of stethoscope you’re using ‒ and remember that your very best instrument is always the one between your ears!

What this video to see how to use a stethoscope for blood pressure.

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