Tips for Choosing a Blood Pressure Monitor
Many people have high blood pressure (HBP) for years without knowing it. Generally, there are no symptoms, but when HBP goes untreated, it damages arteries and vital organs throughout your body. That’s why it is often called the “silent killer.”
People often make the mistake of assuming symptoms will alert them to their high blood pressure. However, HBP can only be diagnosed by using a device to measure your blood pressure. Not that long ago, this meant going to your doctor or a clinic and having a reading taken by a nurse or other healthcare professional. But today there are accurate BP monitors at your local pharmacy and there are monitors you can buy to measure your blood pressure at home.
Choosing a Monitor
The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep (upper-arm) monitor. Ask your healthcare professional for advice in selecting and using one at home. Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because they yield less reliable readings.
Make sure it’s approved.
Make sure the monitor has been tested, validated and approved by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, the British Hypertension Society and the International Protocol for the Validation of Automated BP Measuring Devices.
Make sure it’s appropriate.
When selecting a blood pressure monitor for the elderly, pregnant women or children, make sure it is validated for these conditions.
Make sure the cuff fits.
Children and adults with smaller or larger than average-sized arms may need special-sized cuffs. They are available in some pharmacies, from medical supply companies and by direct order from companies that sell BP cuffs. Measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.
Get it checked.
Also have the device checked by your healthcare provider when it’s new and once a year to make sure the readings are accurate.
Keep a record.
Create an account at Heart 360 and record your BP readings online. This is private and confidential, but you can share it with your physician as a part of treatment. If the Internet isn’t your thing, there is a printable tracker.
This information is provided as a resource to our readers. The tips, products or resources listed have not been reviewed or endorsed by the American Heart Association.