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 that home blood pressure monitoring is helping people to better blood pressure control (resource).
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.
Home Blood Pressure Monitors – Things To Know
Choosing The Right Monitor
There are 2 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 (resource). This is the main reason wrist monitors are not as accurate.
Numerous studies have concluded the upper arm measurements are more accurate and consistent (resource). I wrote a review of the upper arm monitor I highly recommend, you can read about it by clicking here. In addition, the American Heart Association recommends the same type of monitor.
There are 3 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.
If you have one of the three reasons above then a wrist monitor would be your choice. If you require a wrist monitor or would like to buy one to supplement your upper arm monitor, read about the wrist monitor I recommend in my blog post here.
Pick The Right Cuff Size
Picking the right arm cuff is crucial for getting accurate readings with your monitor. Some monitors come with only one cuff size and others allow you to order a cuff size when buying your monitor. Please read the size of the cuff included before buying a monitor with only one cuff size. For either monitor, you will need to measure the circumference of your upper arm with a cloth measuring tape so you can match it to the right size cuff. The monitor I recommend, comes with a standard size cuff for arms that measure between 8.75 inches and 16.5 inches.
Why is the right size cuff so important? Typically, if the cuff is too small, your BP readings will be higher than what is really is and if the cuff is too large, your readings will be lower. The right cuff size is important to get the right reading and avoid a misdiagnosis.
Consider Features You May Need
- Number display: If your 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 that connects to a phone app has its advantages. The phone app can store your readings for you. 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 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
First buy a 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, take it with you to your next doctor visit. Ask them to check your blood pressure with it to compare the reading with their BP reading. In addition, have them make sure you are using it correctly so when you take it at home you know you’re doing it right. Bring your monitor back to the doctor every year so they can check the accuracy yearly for you.
Why You Should Monitor Your Blood Pressure At Home
Early Diagnosis: The earlier you can find out your blood pressure is too high the better. Using a home blood pressure monitor can help your doctor diagnosis high blood pressure earlier than if you only had your blood pressure taken in the doctor’s office. Besides high blood pressure, you may benefit from an early diagnosis of a condition that causes high BP, like kidney problems.
Track Your Blood Pressure Progress & Treatment: If you’ve been diagnosed with high or elevated blood pressure, home monitoring is a great way to find out if your lifestyle changes or medication are working properly. This can help your doctor make decisions on your treatment faster than if your blood pressure was taken only at your visits.
Compare Your Blood Pressure Readings To The Dr. Office: Some people experience white coat or masked hypertension. For a number of possible reasons, your blood pressure may be higher only when you’re at the doctor’s office. Other people may experience higher blood pressure only at home at not at the doctor’s office. By monitoring your pressure at home and comparing the readings to your visits, can help your doctor determine if you truly have high BP or not.
Decrease Healthcare Costs: Taking advantage of home monitoring and receiving the benefits mentioned in this blog post, can help your blood pressure problems sooner than later. This can add up to less office visits, medication and treatment, which can lower your healthcare costs. If you want to explore lowering your healthcare costs, this health plan service can find you more affordable healthcare that’s not only less money but right for you. Check them out by clicking on my blog post right here.
Partnering With Your Doctor: At a doctor visit, they will ask you questions about your health, any problems you may be experiencing and more. The doctor needs information from you to properly check on your health. By monitoring your blood pressure at home, you’re giving the doctor more information he/she would have otherwise. This makes you more involved in your health and more part of your healthcare team.
Observe Complications & Emergency Treatment: There are extreme high blood pressure situations like hypertensive crisis. Blood pressure in this range can be extremely dangerous, especially if it’s accompanied by certain symptoms. Learn more about these symptoms and hypertensive crisis in my blog post by clicking here. Having a home blood pressure monitor can help you identify if your BP is at dangerous levels, except for guessing about it.
Tips On Taking Your Blood Pressure With A Home Monitor
The following are crucial things for you to know when using a home blood pressure monitor. Using the proper steps and recommendations is a must when checking your blood pressure (resource).
- Make sure you have the right cuff size and it’s wrapped around your arm properly. Most cuffs have instructions printed right on the cuff that tell you how to position your cuff the right way.
- Take your blood pressure readings the same time everyday, like every morning.
- Don’t smoke, drink caffeine or perform exercise for at least 30 minutes prior to taking your measurement.
- Make sure your bladder is empty prior to taking your blood pressure.
- Have 5 minutes of quiet time and rest before taking your BP.
- Wrap the cuff around your exposed arm and not over clothing.
- Sit in an upright position with your back supported. In addition, don’t cross your feet or legs and keep you feet flat on the floor.
- Your arm should be supported on a flat surface like an arm of the chair you’re sitting in.
- Make sure the cuff is at the same level of your heart.
- Don’t talk while taking your blood pressure.
- Take 2 or 3 measurements about a minute apart and record them all.
- Keep track of your measurements in your monitor, on your connected app or a written log. Bring these measurements with you to your doctor visits.
If you found this Blood Pressure topic interesting check out these related blood pressure articles also found in this same website:
- The Top 3 Home Blood Pressure Monitors
- The Omron 10 Series Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor
- How To Use A Home Blood Pressure Monitor The Right Way