The best home blood pressure monitors are ones that have been tested and validated according to standards set by the British Hypertension Society (BHS), European Society of Hypertension (ESH) or the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI). This shows they are clinically accurate and give reliable, trustworthy results.
A wide range of home blood pressure monitors is available. Some monitors measure blood pressure using a cuff on your upper arm, and others with a cuff that fits around the wrist, and some even measure blood pressure around a finger.
Blood pressure monitors that use an upper arm cuff are generally considered most accurate, but those that measure blood pressure around the wrist are easier to keep with you for regular use. I have one of each, for convenience, as I can then check their readings against each other for added reassurance, and don’t have to run around the house (putting my blood pressure up) to find one!
Select a monitor that is fully automated so that you don’t have to pump air into the cuff by hand.
What size cuff do you need?
Choose the right size of cuff for your upper arm or you will get false blodo pressure readings. Measure your upper arm, in centimetres, midway between your shoulder and elbow, then check the measurements provided with your chosen monitor. As a general guide:
- If your upper arm measures 18-22 cm, select a small cuff.
- If your upper arm measures 22-32 cm, select a medium cuff.
- If your upper arm measures 32-45 cm select a large cuff.
Most monitors come with a medium sized cuff and you may have to order a small or large cuff separately. Some monitors are supplied with different size cuffs included within the box, to make using the correct size easier. This is also helpful when different members of the family have different sized arms.
Are expensive blood pressure monitors more accurate than cheap ones?
Blood pressure monitors vary tremendously in price, but as long as you select one that is properly validated, the cost does not reflect accuracy. A cheaper, validated blood pressure monitor will give results that are just as accurate as those that are more expensive.
The more expensive blood pressure monitors tend to be more robust and have additional features such as a built-in memory and pre-programmed alerts. As long as the monitor is properly validated, however, you can feel comfortable buying one according to your budget.
Remember to recalibrate
Home blood pressure monitors must be re-checked for accuracy and, if necessary, re-calibrated, at least every two years to ensure you are still getting accurate, reliable results. Check the instructions inside your packaging for details of how to send it back to the manufacturer, and how much this will cost.
When the time comes for your home monitor to be recalibrated, weigh up the cost (and inconvenience) of sending it away against the cost of buying a new monitor. Prices are always coming down, and you may find you can buy a new monitor, with extra features, without paying a lot more.
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.
Image credits: andrey_popov; romanr/shutterstock