Blood pressure monitors for home
Hypertension - home monitoring
Your health care provider may ask you to keep track of your blood pressure at home. To do this, you will need to get home blood pressure monitor. The monitor you choose should be good quality and fit well.
MANUAL BLOOD PRESSURE MONITORS
- Manual devices include a cuff that wraps around your arm, a rubber squeeze bulb, and a gauge that measures the blood pressure. A stethoscope is needed to listen to the blood pulsing through the artery.
- You can see your blood pressure on the circular dial of the gauge as the needle moves around and the pressure in the cuff rises or falls.
- When used correctly, manual devices are very accurate. However, they are not the recommended type of blood pressure monitor for home use.
DIGITAL BLOOD PRESSURE MONITORS
- A digital device will also have a cuff that wraps around your arm. To inflate the cuff, you may need to use a rubber squeeze ball. Other kinds will inflate automatically when you push a button.
- After the cuff is inflated, the pressure will slowly drop on its own. The screen will show a digital readout of your systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- After showing your blood pressure, the cuff will deflate on its own. With many machines, you must wait for 15 to 30 seconds before using it again.
- A digital blood pressure monitor will not be as accurate if your body is moving when you are using it. Also, an irregular heart rate will make the reading less accurate. However, digital monitors are the best choice for home use for most people.
TIPS FOR MONITORING YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
- Practice using the monitor with your provider or nurse to make sure you are taking your blood pressure correctly.
- Your arm should be supported, with your upper arm at heart level and feet on the floor (back supported, legs uncrossed).
- It's best to measure your blood pressure after you rest for at least 5 minutes.
- Do not take your blood pressure when you are under stress, have had caffeine or used a tobacco product in the last 30 minutes, or have recently exercised.
- Take at least 2 readings 1 minute apart in the morning before taking medicines and in evening before eating supper. Try to measure and record BP daily for 5 days and then report your results to your provider.
Following your blood pressure at home has gotten a lot easier in the last few years. I'm Dr. Alan Greene. I'd like to share with you a little bit about that. Not too long ago when you wanted to follow your blood pressure at home, you had to have the old fashioned sphygmomonometer, and the device was a complex as that word sounds. You had to pump something up, and put a stethoscope in your ears, and fumble all these different tubes and even so wouldn't get a very accurate reading. Now, there are simple, high quality, digital blood pressure cuffs. They're easy to use at home. They're built so they snap on the arm very easily, just press a single button, and the chip inside does the work for you. It blows it up, it gives you the reading, and some of the newer models even connect it to your PC and track the readings for you. Now, how accurate are they? They're really pretty good. I wouldn't trust a single reading that much if you get one that's high or low. I wouldn't be either reassured or panicked. But, I would trust the pattern of readings. So, if you have one that tracks it for you, that's great, if not, just write them down what date and time you took it and see what the pattern is over time. If there's anything of concern, be sure to report it to your physician.
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Last reviewed on: 8/20/2023
Reviewed by: Jacob Berman, MD, MPH, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.