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Selecting the Best Blood Pressure Monitor

When you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, your physician may recommend getting a blood pressure monitor for home. This isn’t your average everyday purchase! Selecting the right blood pressure monitor is important. Why?

Top reasons why people get home blood pressure monitors:

  • Because it will help you track how diet and environment affect your blood pressure as well as monitor how well your current treatment plan is working. When on the DASH diet, it is beneficial to measure your blood pressure at home to be able to switch to low sodium DASH diet if your regular DASH diet plan is not working well enough
  • It can be life saving to have a high blood pressure monitor at home in situation when your blood pressure spikes and reached dangerous levels. It helps you decide whether to go to emergency and avoid provoking a stroke.

In short, because high blood pressure is a silent killer, you might want to get a device that allows you to make it visible and measurable.

You don’t need a prescription to get a monitor, but this purchase may be covered under your insurance plan. Exactly what type of monitoring system you require depends on various physical conditions. For example, individuals with partial hearing loss require a machine with a visual display where someone with poor eyesight could use a system with sound signals. Your physician will be able to recommend different home monitoring systems, but it helps to understand the terminology they use.

Best blood pressure monitor. Decision #1: automatic vs manual

When selecting the best blood pressure monitor your first decision is whether you want a manual or an automatic machine. The manual or Aneroid monitor is budget-friendly. Nonetheless if you have arthritis you may find putting the cuff on or inflating it using the bulb is difficult. By comparison digital machines (automatic) run on batteries and cost a little more, but they are very easy to use (and some come with electrical plugs for charging the system).


Best blood pressure monitor. Decision #2: Price

The price range on blood pressure monitors varies dramatically from style to style and manufacturer to manufacturer. Some cost as little as $20, while other run over $200. This is where your physician’s recommendations and consumer feedback can help you greatly. You don’t want to give up accuracy for a few dollars, but you also don’t need to spend hundreds to get an effective home system.


Best blood pressure monitor. Decision #3: Accuracy vs. Convenience

People find wrist blood pressure monitors the most convenient.



Though not as convenient, blood pressure monitors that use upper arm readings are the most accurate (at least according to The American Heart Association ). The main reason that wrist monitors don’t provide as precise readings is that your wrist needs to be at the level of your heart to get a reading. Finger monitors have similar limitations and may be affected by body temperature. Both a wrist and a finger monitor will cost more than an arm cuff too.


Now, it’s important to realize that your home blood pressure reading may be different than what you got at the doctor’s office even on the same day – this is perfectly normal. First of all, you may get “white coat effect” where your blood pressure goes up at the doctor’s office. This is a completely well documented reaction. The best thing to do is take your chosen monitor to the doctor’s office. Let them take your blood pressure using their equipment and then you use your own machine to take your blood pressure again. Now you have a viable comparison. So you know if your monitor runs high or low, and by how much.

Best blood pressure monitor. Decision #4: Digital vs. Analog

Another question that comes up frequently when selecting the best blood pressure monitor is whether digital or analog is best. Digital monitors are more popular thanks to the ease of use and readings. However, be aware that digital readings can be adversely affected by physical movement. People with irregular heart rates also may find them difficult. By comparison, analog devices offer reliability and accuracy but they take longer to learn how to use effectively.


Other Important Features

So what features should you look for in a home blood pressure monitor? There are three major elements that are the most important.

  • First off the size of the monitoring system must be right. If you get the wrong size cuff your readings will also be wrong.
  • Secondarily, if you choose a system with a stethoscope try it to make sure you can hear clearly. If not, the system will not work for you.
  • Last but not least, from a visual standpoint look for a monitor with clearly defined numbers.

You should also consider whether you need to have a blood pressure monitor with you continuously, 24×7. Do you need a device that also measures heart rate? What about printing your readings, tracking results for two people, and downloading them on your PC? There are blood pressure monitors that have intelligence to do that.

Summary

Selecting the right blood pressure monitor is not as difficult as you may think, but take your time and shop around. This is an important tool on your road to recovery, so get one that fits your lifestyle and physical needs in the best possible way. Compare most popular home blood pressure monitors using criteria that I have listed above, and hopefully you will select one that will be easy for you to use and won’t break a bank.

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