Blood Pressure Monitor Buying Guide
To Your Health

High blood pressure—known as the silent killer—has no obvious symptoms, yet one in three Americans have the condition. It triggers more heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. than any other disease, and kills more people worldwide than smoking, diabetes, and obesity.

If you have been diagnosed with borderline or high blood pressure, home testing with a reliable blood pressure monitor is an important and convenient way to keep track of your health. And taking multiple readings at home can actually be more accurate than the results you get at a doctor's office.

You don't need a prescription to buy an at-home blood pressure monitor. But before spending the money, you should talk with your physician about whether you need one.

Who Benefits From Home Monitoring?

Your blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats. Your blood pressure can vary depending on changes in posture, exercise, diet, medications, emotions, or sleep. That’s why a single blood pressure measurement taken at the doctor's office doesn’t always provide accurate information about your health. A series of readings taken over time using a home blood pressure monitor, however, can provide both you and your doctor with a more complete picture of your heart health.

A home monitor may be especially useful for:

  Patients starting high blood pressure (HBP) treatment, to determine its effectiveness
 Patients requiring closer monitoring than intermittent office visits provide, especially individuals with coronary heart disease, diabetes, and/or kidney disease
 Pregnant women, as preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced hypertension can develop rapidly
 People who have had some high readings at the doctor's office, but need to confirm if they have true HBP
•  People who become nervous in a doctor’s office, which can affect blood pressure readings

Note: People with atrial fibrillation or other arrhythmias may not be good candidates for home monitoring.

Types of Home Monitors

Home blood pressure monitors come in arm-cuff and wrist-cuff models. When narrowing your choice, make sure to consider performance, features, and price, as well as attributes such as color, size, or style.

Photo of a blood pressure monitor that you wear on your arm.

Arm Monitors

These monitors automatically inflate the cuff and display readings. Most have “risk category indicators” that will flag high readings. Some models allow you to download results to a computer, making it easy to share them with your doctor.

Pros: Some models have multiple user memories, allowing more than one person in your household to monitor and record their blood pressure.

Cons: With all arm monitors, correct fit of the cuff is essential. If it’s too tight or loose you may get inaccurate readings.

Photo of a blood pressure monitor that you wear on your wrist.

Wrist Monitors

These convenient monitors are fully automatic, but may be less accurate than arm monitors.

Pros: Compact, lightweight, portable.

Cons: Pressure measurements taken at the wrist are extremely sensitive to body position. The cuff should be positioned at heart level for an accurate reading.

How To Buy The Best Monitor For You

Pick a top-scoring model that has the features you need and that will make testing easier for you. For example, some models allow you to store readings for more than one user. All of the models we recommend are rated Excellent for accuracy, but there are other factors to consider, too. Follow these tips to help you select the best monitor for you:

Check the Fit
Make sure the blood pressure monitor you choose has a cuff that fits the circumference of your upper arm. Using a cuff that's the wrong size can result in inaccurate readings. Most of the arm models we tested have two cuffs or a cuff that can be adjusted to fit most people. Wrist models also fit most people.

Consider Cost
The recommended models in the Ratings (available to subscribers) were priced from $40 to $75. But shop around. And find out if your insurance covers blood pressure monitors.

Choose One That’s Easy to Use
The display on the monitor should be easy to read. The buttons should be large and intuitive. The directions for using the cuff and operating the monitor should be clear.

Select According to the Features You Need
There are many features to look for when selecting a blood pressure monitor. Here are some to consider: Irregular-heartbeat detector, risk-category indicator, multiple user memories, multiple cuffs, memory download capability, large digit display, and data averaging function. For more details, check out our Ratings and click the features and specifications tab.

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