What factors affect pulse oximeter reading?

Q. Why does the pulse oximeter not read my dad's recording properly?

Answered by
Dr. Lalit Kumar Bansal
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan
This is a premium question & answer published on May 15, 2020 and last reviewed on: Apr 01, 2021

Hi doctor,

Recently, we bought an oximeter. It shows readings well for four peoples in our house. But it struggles to show reading for my father. He has fluctuation in his heart rate varying from normal to low. His blood pressure reading is fine. Why?



Welcome to icliniq.com.

The oximeter works well when the flow rate in the periphery is good. In normal people, it records the pulse and their oxygen saturation will be good. But in some people, when the flow to the fingers and toes is not good, it will not work well. It is common in chronic smokers and old patients where their vessels seem to be contracted. In these people, the pulse rate seems to be low and high and it will show a false reading. This is the reason for their hands and feet to be cold. I suggest you apply an oximeter to the loose skin of the ear lobule which means the hanging skin of the ear. Probably, the oximeter will show a good reading.

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