High blood pressure is lethal, but more often than not, it slips under the radar. Luckily, we now have advanced technologies that help us monitor our blood pressure and keep our health in check.
But without adequate knowledge of how BP monitors work, we end up making the wrong decision. Inaccurate readings can lead to unwanted complications.
To help you make a more informed decision, we’ve compiled a list of the best blood pressure monitor reviews and a buying guide.
Automatic vs. Manual
In recent times, there’s been a huge debate regarding automated vs. manual BP monitoring. Perhaps calling them manual BP “monitors” is a bit modest since you’re doing half the job.
These come in the form of packs that you must tie around your upper arm and evacuate using a manual pump. Then you must use a stethoscope to count the pulse rate in your veins. Since this requires careful attention and is subject to biases (preferring numbers ending in 0), an automated system is better.
Automated monitors both operate the pump and display the correct blood pressure. They’re used in many modern hospitals, and some more portable and affordable options are also available.
While it may seem like no big deal, the mounting location of the monitor influences the reading. Here’s a rundown of the three most common spots:
Upper arm BP monitors are the most common and the most preferred. They provide accurate readings down to every decimal point. And the automated ones even tell you whether your BP is normal or not. However, if for some reason you cannot mount the monitor to your upper arm (for example, an injury), then consider the other types.
Arm monitors also pose another issue: they require a specific fit. Finding the right fit is tedious, and people end up settling for a lesser snug monitor. It leads to inaccurate readings, which can be fatal.
Wrist-mounted BP monitors are lesser accurate than the upper arm-mounted ones.
You can use these monitors when you can’t use your upper arm for readings. They’re also highly portable and cheap. And they don’t require a specific fit.
However, they are inaccurate when compared to arm-mounted monitors. Their readings are subject to the position of the arm and the wrist. It’s best to raise your wrist to heart level and keep it there until the machine is done taking the reading.
Last but not least, we have the finger-mounted BP monitors. These are the smallest and least accurate types. They can be managed with ease, especially if you’re traveling and want to keep them as a carry-on. However, if you don’t need it, then you should go for a wrist or upper arm-mounted monitor. BP readings are crucial, after all.
Sizing and Fit
Size is as important as where you mount your monitor. The incorrect size will either lead to a Velcro strap that won’t close or a cuff that doesn’t sit flush against your skin. Sizing recommendations vary depending on the circumference of your arm.
Different standard sizes are recommended for different arm circumferences. For instance, for circumferences measuring 22 to 26 centimeters, the “Adult Small” size is recommended. You can always consult with a physician beforehand to know the correct size for you.
The best part about wrist and finger-mounted monitors is that you don’t have to worry about the fit. However, it’s always a good idea to give them a try before you finalize the purchase.
Some BP monitors come with memory and store past BP readings for you and your doctor to see. Many are capable of generating entire graphs of your readings over months. You’ll need to empty some memory after some time. Check the manual to see how long your monitor’s memory lasts.
Smarter monitors come with dedicated apps that hold more memory than the monitor itself. You can make use of these to keep track of monthly and yearly BP changes.
In addition to memory, modern BP monitors now come with an irregularity detector. These have an algorithm that detects pulse irregularities pulse and notifies you. They’re great for home-based BP monitoring where you wouldn’t notice such irregularities. However, keep in mind that you only get this feature in the automated monitors. And it shouldn’t be relied on unless it’s been clinically approved.
A handful of smart BP monitors available on the market can connect to your smart devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. They’re paired with a dedicated app that stores your readings for much longer than the monitor itself. You can also configure some apps to send you daily reminders to check your blood pressure.
Take Three Measurements
While not available in every BP monitor, some automatic ones let you take three readings in one go. Each reading is taken up to 60 seconds apart from the other. In the end, a program averages the three readings to give you a more accurate result.
This is useful as it’s a clinically approved method. It takes 2-3 minutes to take the readings. However, if your blood pressure changes drastically in that time, then the average is useless. Instead, look for a monitor that displays all three readings along with the average separately.
Last but not least, look for certain certifications. Try to find a BP monitor that is clinically approved. It would indicate higher accuracy and a smaller margin of error. You can make do with an unapproved monitor. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.
There are many ways your own body can harm you, and high blood pressure is one of them. Fortunately, having the best blood pressure monitor can be a life saver.
These were some of our recommended BP monitors. They’re all clinically approved and highly validated. But you may find that some other monitor might satisfy your requirement better.
In that case, feel free to explore the pharmacy. There’s a BP monitor for everyone. Just be sure to check it against our buying guide and see if it fits.