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With more and more health visits going virtual, the ability to do basic health procedures at home has become a necessity. One of these is taking blood pressure.
Monitoring blood pressure is important because long standing high blood pressure can cause damage to arteries and the heart. By checking blood pressure, it’s possible to monitor if medications are needed or working.
If you do need to monitor your blood pressure for any reason, it might seem overwhelming trying to figure out which monitor to choose.
You should always speak with your doctor if you have any questions about blood pressure monitoring, but we’ve compiled a list of some blood pressure monitors that might help you in your search.
Typically, blood pressure monitors work by inflating a cuff until it temporarily cuts off blood flow through the brachial artery. The pressure in the cuff is then slowly released.
Within the cuff, a sensor detects blood flow. The point when the blood begins to flow intermittently through the artery is the systolic blood pressure (the top number), and the point when the blood flow goes from intermittent to steady is the diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number).
While the monitor is sensing the blood flow, it can also calculate your heart rate. Luckily, you just have to check out the final numbers and not worry about the work involved.
When deciding which blood pressure monitors to include, we considered factors like:
- Location. Blood pressure monitors that assess blood pressure on the upper arm tend to be considered the most accurate, so we focused our suggestions mostly on upper arm monitors.
- Special features. Gathering additional types of information, having apps to store and transfer data, and other technological advances all help make a blood pressure monitor stand out from the pack!
- Accuracy. We know that accuracy matters when it comes to your health information, so we tried to include only monitors with a reputation for great accuracy. (And we included information below about how you can increase the accuracy of your blood pressure monitor by taking it to the doctor with you!)
- Price. Blood pressure monitors are available in a range of prices, so we did our best to showcase options for various budgets.
- Customer reviews. There are some things only someone who has bought and used a blood pressure monitor can know about it. That’s why we’ve given a lot of weight to what real users have to say about their experiences.
Best overall blood pressure monitor
This Bluetooth-enabled monitor is designed to give 6 months of readings on one charge. Unlimited data storage and an optional app can help you share information with your doctor. It also displays the blood pressure reading on the monitor itself. It also offers color-coded feedback with your results to help you to know when to reach out to your doctor.
This is not the cheapest blood pressure monitor, but it’s also not the most expensive. If you have very specific needs like a cuff sized for larger arms or a setup for multiple users, other options might be a better fit, but for basic use, this model gets rave reviews from consumers.
Best for budget
Want to track your blood pressure, but also stay within a budget? This monitor is not only one of the least expensive approved by the FDA, but it’s also simple and straightforward.
The monitor color codes your results (red, yellow, or green) to make it easy for you to know if you need further attention.
This device also monitors for heart rhythm (something not typical at this price range). It can hold up to 99 readings by itself and unlimited readings if connected to the iHealth app.
Best for multiple users
If you have several people in your household who need their blood pressure monitored, the Evolv is one of the few blood pressure monitors on the market to offer unlimited readings for an unlimited number of people.
Other benefits to this monitor? It’s very portable and it has a cuff that extends from 9 to 17 inches for those with larger arms.
Each person using the monitor will need to create their own Omron accounts on the app to keep track of their readings. Omron has more information based on frequently asked questions on their website.
Best wrist monitor
It’s recommended to use an upper arm blood pressure monitor for the most accurate blood pressure reading results. However, if you have an upper arm injury, for example, a wrist blood pressure monitor can be a good alternative.
This monitor is very portable if you need to travel and has an easy-to-read dual display. There is a high warning average indicator to notify you if you are out of the normal range in the morning when strokes are more common.
Best for large arms
If you have large arm muscles or are just built with larger arms, trying to squeeze into a small cuff can be uncomfortable. It can also lead to less accurate readings.
This monitor may be a great option. Its cuff extends from 16.5 to 23.6 inches. This monitor also detects irregular heart rate.
Downsides? This monitor just doesn’t have the same amount of memory storage as some other options. (It only holds 60 readings.) The price is also higher, but that may be worth it for a monitor with a cuff that fits.
Best monitor with EKG
This machine really stands out from the pack by measuring pulse and detecting heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation, tachycardia, bradycardia, and sinus rhythm in addition to blood pressure. The machine also stores unlimited data and the cuff is flexible, which can lead to more accurate readings.
The monitor is a little bulkier (though it does come in a carrying case you can use if you need to travel) and it has a much higher price tag than many models.
Many people find that they have higher blood pressure readings at the doctor’s office, sometimes because they’re less at ease there and because professional tools may be more accurate.
Readings taken at home can be less accurate than those taken at the doctor’s office where manual checks are a possibility. One way to make sure that you’re getting consistent blood pressure readings is to bring your monitor with you to an appointment.
Trying to get an accurate reading? Start with these steps.
- Get settled in. Make sure that your bladder is empty and you’ve had a minute to breathe. Remove any bulky clothing on the upper body. Place your feet uncrossed on the floor and rest your forearm on a table or chair arm that is heart level.
- Apply the cuff. If using an upper arm cuff, the lower edge should be about an inch above the pit of your elbow. It should feel snug, but not tight.
- Power up the monitor. Make sure to check out your monitor’s specific directions.
- Inflate the cuff and wait patiently. Remember to breathe as you usually would.
- Note the numbers. Read the monitor to get your numbers and make note of them somewhere if needed.
- Take a second reading. Release the pressure of the cuff all the way before you take a second reading. Always wait at least 1 minute between readings.
Once you have an accurate reading, you may wonder what it means. Healthy blood pressure in adults is a reading of less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), but what if your numbers don’t match?
Systolic more than 120 and diastolic more than 80?
Elevated blood pressure occurs when the systolic (top) number is between 120 and 129 mm Hg, and the diastolic (bottom) number is below 80 mm Hg. Most of the time, doctors will encourage lifestyle changes, but not medication, at this point.
Systolic more than 130?
With a systolic reading higher than 130 mm Hg or a diastolic reading of 80 mm Hg or above, you’re experiencing hypertension, and your doctor will determine a treatment plan.
You should always contact your doctor if you’re worried about blood pressure results. For more information about high blood pressure, check out this article.
Systolic more than 180 or diastolic more than 120?
If the systolic number of your blood pressure reading is greater than 180 mm Hg or the diastolic number is more than 120 mm Hg, you should seek immediate medical attention, particularly if you have symptoms like headache, arm pain, or blurred vision.
Not comfortable using a blood pressure monitor on your arm? There is a wide range of monitor choices to suit your needs, some of which attach other places (though this could affect accuracy).
Blood pressure monitors designed for home use do come with some limitations. Having a doctor or other medical professional check your machine can help ensure more accurate readings.
A good blood pressure monitor fits your arm well and is accurate. With so many options out there, you can be on the right track to finding one that works for you.
Catherine Crider, CD/PCD(DONA), CLEC, CBE, JD, MEd, has worked with children for the past decade as a trained elementary and special education teacher, and finds special joy in supporting blossoming families and their infants. She enjoys educating new parents and parents-to-be about their different options as well as the current best practices in baby care. Catherine writes for various websites and teaches full-spectrum childbirth and postpartum education in several locations in California’s North Bay Area and Peninsula.