Buying a home blood pressure monitor is one of the smartest decisions you can make. More emphasis is being placed on home monitoring because it has so many advantages. Studies have shown home blood pressure monitoring is helping people to better blood pressure control.
Before you buy a home blood pressure monitor, there are things you should know. This will prevent you from buying the wrong monitor, getting inaccurate readings, choosing the wrong cuff or wasting money.
By doing your research ahead of time will save you many wasted time and get you on track faster. The tips in this article about a home monitor will help you reach your blood pressure goals and make it easier to maintain your desired BP levels 1.
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Home Blood Pressure Monitors – Things To Know
How To Choose a Home Blood Pressure Monitor
There are two main types of home blood pressure monitors, upper arm cuff and wrist monitor. The upper arm cuff is more accurate than a wrist monitor and should be used first.
The arteries in the wrist are more narrow and closer to the surface of the skin when compared to the upper arm arteries 2. This is the main reason wrist monitors are not as accurate. There are some circumstances where using a wrist monitor makes sense. These situations are covered a little down further.
Numerous studies have concluded the upper arm measurements are more accurate and consistent 3. I wrote a review of the upper arm monitor I highly recommend for accuracy. You can read about it by clicking here Welch Allyn 1700 Accuracy.
In addition, the American Heart Association recommends the same type of monitor.
There are three situations an upper arm monitor may be unright for you:
- The upper arm is too big for a traditional upper arm cuff to fit properly. Typically, this happens when a person is overweight.
- The shape of a person’s upper arm is cone shaped. Because of this, the cuff will not wrap around the arm properly resulting in an inaccurate measurement.
- A person may have a mobility limitation with their arm, shoulder or hand making it impossible for them to use a wrist monitor.
- Frail, older people, making an upper arm cuff too uncomfortable or painful.
If you have one of the four reasons above then a wrist monitor may be your choice. If you require one or would like one to supplement your upper arm monitor, read about the wrist monitor I recommend in my blog post, Omron Gold Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor.
In addition, I’ve gone in to complete detail on each of the four reasons above in my article, Reasons To Use A Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor. The conical shaped arm is an interesting topic and discussed.
As far as upper arm monitors, the accurate one I mentioned is also the one I recommend to use. I’ve owned it for almost four years. Check out my review of it here, Welch Allyn Home 1700 Series Blood Pressure Monitor Review.
Choosing The Correct Blood Pressure Cuff Size
Picking the correct arm cuff is crucial for achieving accurate readings with the monitor. Some monitors come with only one cuff size and others allow you to order a cuff size when buying it. Please read the size of the cuff included before buying a monitor with only one cuff size.
This is how to choose the correct size BP cuff:
- Measure the circumference of the upper arm with a cloth measuring tape.
- Wrap the tape evenly around the middle of the upper arm.
- Keep the arm straight down and relaxed.
- Write down the measurement.
- Check the size range of the blood pressure cuff and ensure the measurement of the upper arm falls into its range.
Why is the correct size cuff so important? Typically, if the cuff is too small, the BP readings will be higher than what it really is. If the cuff is too large, the readings may be lower. The correct cuff size is important to receive accurate measurements and avoid a misdiagnosis.
Most of the time people will end up with a cuff too small. For people with larger arms, it can be difficult to find a larger cuff. I’ve identified good quality monitors which come larger cuff sizes. Check them out in my article, Home Blood Pressure Monitors For Large Arms.
Blood Pressure Monitor Features You May Need
- Number display: If eyesight or visibility is an issue, you’ll want an easy to read display on the monitor machine. In addition, the background color should be a sharp contrast to the numbers.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Having a monitor connecting to a phone app has its advantages. The phone app can store the readings. This way when you visit your doctor, you can show your readings to the doctor without having to take the monitor or a written log with you.
- Speed: Some machines take the reading faster than others. The tight cuff can feel uncomfortable, so the faster the better. In addition, taking the recommended multiple readings won’t take as much time.
- Users: Some of the less expensive monitors will only store information for one person. If you buy a monitor that supports multiple users, you can both use and store both of your readings in the same monitor.
You may not need the extra features noted above. A travel bag may be unimportant to you, or you can use your own bag. The quality of the machine is more important than the extra bells and whistles. At the same time, don’t order a device minus a feature you’ll need to take your measurements properly.
Check Your Home Monitor For Accuracy
Purchase a home monitor that has been validated. You shouldn’t run into this problem buying a decent quality monitor but double check anyway.
Once you receive your new monitor, you’ll want to find out, how do I know if my blood pressure monitor is accurate?
To find out if a blood pressure monitor is accurate take it to the next doctor visit. Have a medical professional check the blood pressure monitor’s measurement and compare it with their device. Have the blood pressure monitor rechecked once per year.
In addition, have them make sure you are using it correctly so your measurements at home are done properly.
Bring the monitor back to the doctor every year so they can check the accuracy yearly. It doesn’t make sense to use an inaccurate monitor which can cause a misdiagnosis. Check out my article about The Most Accurate Blood Pressure Monitor For Home Use.
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Should Home Blood Pressure Monitors be Calibrated?
You’ve picked an accurate monitor and want to keep it that way. Therefore, should home blood pressure monitors be calibrated?
Home blood pressure monitors should be recalibrated once they become inaccurate. Some manufacturers recommend recalibration every two years and others don’t require it. Check with the manufacturer of the monitor owned for their recommendation.
Popular blood pressure monitor manufacturers may have different recommendations. Check out what they are and how to get one recalibrated in my article, How Often Should Home Blood Pressure Monitors Be Calibrated?
If you own an Omron, check my article, Does Omron Blood Pressure Monitors Need Calibration?
Replacing Batteries In A Home BP Monitor
How often should batteries in a blood pressure machine be changed? Batteries in a blood pressure machine should be changed when the low battery indicator indicates low, the display is dim or if the machine doesn’t have power when turned on.
When it needs to be replaced, you may ask, how do I change the battery in my blood pressure monitor?
Change the batteries in a blood pressure monitor by following these steps:
- Turn the monitor power off.
- Remove the battery door.
- Remove the old batteries one by one.
- Install the type of batteries required for the monitor one at a time.
- Match the polarity of the battery as per the diagram in the battery compartment.
- Close the battery door.
For additional tips and suggestions check my article, How Often You Should Replace Batteries In A BP Monitor.
What To Do If A Home Blood Pressure Monitor Is Not Working
If the blood pressure monitor is not turning on check the following:
- Change the batteries.
- Make sure the batteries are installed correctly.
- Make sure the AC adaptor is pushed in all the way.
If the monitor doesn’t complete a reading:
- The cuff may be loose.
- Excessive arm motion was detected.
- The air bladder may be leaking.
If any of the above was not the reason for the problem, the monitor would have a part or hardware malfunction. Contact the manufacturer and see advice from their support department.
Check my article, Blood Pressure Monitor Stopped Working? Tips To Fix It, for more details and a list of phone numbers for the most popular blood pressure equipment manufacturers.
Can Home Blood Pressure Monitors Go bad?
Home blood pressure monitors can go bad. They should be replaced when they are no longer accurate or if a hardware part becomes inoperable and the warranty is expired.
Depending on the company and monitor, most warranty periods are for 2-3 years. I explain the warranty periods and conditions in detail in my article, How Often You Should Replace Your Blood Pressure Monitor.
What Is The Best Way To Take Blood Pressure At Home
There are many ways to take blood pressure at home. The results of a blood pressure measurement are important. Therefore, what is the best way to take blood pressure at home?
The best way to take blood pressure at home is following these 11 steps:
- Have the correct size cuff.
- Take blood pressure readings the same time everyday.
- Don’t smoke, drink caffeine or perform exercise for at least 30 minutes prior to taking the measurement.
- Take BP with an empty bladder.
- Have 5 minutes of quiet time and rest.
- Wrap the cuff around an exposed arm and not over clothing.
- Sit in an upright position with the back supported.
- Don’t cross the feet or legs and keep the feet flat on the floor.
- The arm should be supported on a flat surface.
- Make sure the cuff is at the same level of the right atrium of the heart.
- Take 2 or 3 measurements about a minute apart and record them all.
Many people take their blood pressure the best way but don’t receive the correct readings because of errors they make just prior or during the measurement. Find out how to prevent those errors in my article, How To Use A Home Blood Pressure Monitor The Right Way.
The Best Home Blood Pressure Monitors
There are many home blood pressure monitors available online in places like Amazon. When shopping for a monitor, you’ll probably ask yourself, how do I choose a home blood pressure monitor?
To choose a home blood pressure monitor:
- Choose a well-known company in the medical supply business.
- Pick a monitor with the features you require.
- Choose a monitor with a cuff size that fits the upper arm.
- Choose a monitor with the latest technology.
- Pick a monitor supporting multiple users if needed.
- Choose a monitor with a good warranty.
- Pick a monitor with bluetooth and a phone app if desired.
- Choose a monitor validated and tested for accuracy.
Consider looking at reviews from a reputable website owner and not from someone who doesn’t own the monitor. Many websites list the features of a monitor but doesn’t own the monitor or ever used it.
I own a Welch Allyn 1700 Series home blood pressure monitor, reviewed it and made comparisons in the following articles. Check them out by clicking each one below:
Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors – Pros and Cons
Wrist Blood Pressure monitors are beneficial in certain situations listed earlier in this article. There is debates about their accuracy, some warranted and some not because of their misuse. They have their pros and cons which I’ll list here.
Pros of Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors:
- Can measure blood pressure when an upper arm cannot because of mobility.
- It’s a good alternative when an upper arm is cone shaped.
- When an upper arm is too large for an upper arm cuff.
- Compact design.
- Has all the features of an upper arm monitor.
- A good choice for older people who may be frail.
Cons of Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors:
- The radial artery in the wrist is not as ideal to use as the brachial artery in the upper arm.
- Studies have shown the wrist monitor to be less accurate than an upper arm monitor.
- It’s more difficult to line up the wrist cuff with the heart.
- The American Heart Association doesn’t recommend using a wrist cuff.
My article, Pros and Cons Of Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors, explains each one of these in more detail.
For the reasons listed above, I wrote the following articles on wrist blood pressure monitors you may want to check out:
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