How to Choose a Home Blood Pressure Monitor

Most people can have high blood pressure without knowing it for some time. High blood pressure has no symptoms but left untreated; it can damage arteries and vital organs. And this is why high blood pressure is known as the “silent killer.” People make the mistake of assuming symptoms will alert them of high blood pressure. You can only diagnose high blood pressure using a device that measures blood pressure. A long time ago, you had to go to the clinic for a checkup. Today’s innovation allows users to monitor blood pressure at home.

How to choose a blood pressure monitor

The American Heart Association suggests users go for an automatic upper arm blood pressure monitor. Finger and wrist monitors are not recommended as they usually come up with unreliable readings. When done correctly, home blood pressure readings can give a more accurate prediction of cardiovascular risks. Home blood pressure readings can also help in recording the progression of kidney diseases. With home blood pressure readings, you get several advantages over a doctor’s visit.

Automatic vs. Manual

The traditional blood pressure monitoring method dictates you inflate the cuff. Users have to squeeze the bulb and listen to pulse changes as the cuff deflates. The manual process is a complex and technical skill. Automatic high blood pressure monitors will make work easier. Users have to push a button, and the cuff automatically inflates and measures your BP. For people with atrial fibrillation, a BP automatic machine may not yield accurate readings.

Avoid Smart Apps

When you look at your app store, dozens of high blood pressure measuring apps pop up. The problem with apps is that they have not been rigorously tested. Most of them don’t work and use pulse wave velocity. The artery of your finger has a waveform, which is what apps measure. These are, in most cases, inaccurate and give users false information. And this is the main reason why you should stay away from high blood pressure measuring apps.

Check accuracy levels

Most monitors found in trusted drug and online stores are fine. It doesn’t hurt to take the monitor to the doctor and check it against the office monitor. Make sure the systolic blood pressure on your cuff is in a range of 10 points. 

Home blood pressures will last for two to three years before expiry. Make sure to go to the doctor with your home blood pressure monitor annually. This will establish the accuracy levels are still intact and, thus give correct readings.

Cuff size

Upper arm BP monitor comes with a cuff that needs wrapping around the arm. Once you choose a cuff with the wrong size, your readings will be inaccurate. Make sure to measure around the arm before purchasing a home blood pressure monitor. The midpoint should be between your shoulder and elbow. Home blood pressure monitors will usually come with medium-sized cuffs. Small size HBP monitors are 18–22 cm, while medium-sized ones are 22-33 cm, and large are 32–45 cm.

Features involved

Do you want a home blood pressure monitor with multiple cuffs? What about the storage of information? Do you want a monitor that stores data for more than one user? You can also choose to have a home blood pressure monitor with a large display. You can get different features from different models. Other exciting features include a cord that plugs into your smartphone. This helps to transfer readings to an app, which creates a graph showing your progress.

Keep home blood pressure monitors properly calibrated

Blood pressure monitors work automatically and need to be recalibrated after two years. Calibration ensures the readings are accurate, and no false data is given. For re-calibration to be fully effective, you need to send the monitor back to the manufacturer. Expect a charge for this service, and the process takes less than two weeks. A well-calibrated HBP monitor will give you the correct readings for a long time. Just with any machine, maintenance is vital.

Make sure the monitor is approved

Make sure the monitor you choose is approved, tested, and validated by medical experts. Ensure the monitor is supported by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation. You can also use The International Protocol for the Validation of Automated BP Measuring Devices. An approved monitor means it has been regulated by officials and will not give false readings.

Record your HBP

Make sure you create a record of your high blood pressure. The recommended choice is creating an account with Heart360. You will be able to record your BP readings online, and information will never be shared. Heart360 is entirely confidential and private. As part of the treatment process, you can share the information with your physician. Ensure you also go for monitors that keep records. This data is vital as it shows the strides you are taking with HBP.

Take three readings

Make sure you take three measurements automatically. Most home blood pressure monitors will take a reading and wait for about 40 seconds for a second reading. Having taken three measurements gives users an average of three readings. And this, in turn, reflects the actual blood pressure accurately. Three translations are necessary as it ensures the monitor is working effectively and gives the right information.

How often should one take a BP measurement?

A doctor will recommend you to take readings every morning and evening for about seven days. If your blood pressure is optimized, you will need to take the readings a few days a month. Experts suggest that it is counterproductive to check blood pressure frequently. Anxiety can increase blood pressure and, thus, never be in a hurry to take one. Take some deep breaths before checking your high blood pressure levels.

A word of warning

Before taking your HBP readings, make sure you don’t smoke or consume any alcoholic and caffeinated drinks. Additionally, you should not exercise within 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Ensure you empty your bladder and rest for about five minutes before taking the readings. 

Do not cross your ankles or legs, and you should sit in your chair with your back fully supported. Ensure your feet are flat on the ground before taking the BP reading.

Resources – Harvard Health Publishing, Blood Pressure UK, Cleveland Clinic