What to look for in a home blood pressure monitor

Keeping track of your blood pressure is a relatively easy process that, with the right machine, can be routinely performed at home. All you have to do is attach a cuff to your upper arm, allow the cuff to inflate and temporarily cut off blood flow to your artery, then let the machine record the numbers. The entire process takes just a few minutes, allowing you to easily monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis. 

What isn’t so simple, however, is choosing the right blood pressure machine. There exists a range of options on the market, which can make it tricky to know what might best suit your needs (particularly if you have no medical background). 

The following advice can help guide you towards making the right purchase. 

Look for medically validated machines

Accuracy is everything when it comes to monitoring your blood pressure. A ‘medically validated’ or ‘clinically validated’ blood pressure monitor is a good sign that the machine is calibrated to deliver results close to what you’d see at your local GP’s clinic. After purchasing, it can be a good idea to bring the machine to your next appointment and have your doctor check it – ideally, your systolic pressure readings should be within approximately 10 points of your doctor’s reading. 

Avoid non-automatic monitors 

These machines typically require the use of a stethoscope, which you’re unlikely to have lying around the house (let alone know how to use). As such, opt for automatic models that provide a cuff which wraps around the arm (rather than the wrist) – these will give you the most accurate reading.

Make sure the cuff is the correct size

If the cuff is too big or too small, it will influence your blood pressure reading. Hence, it’s a good idea to measure your upper arm before buying a monitor. To do so, measure the circumference, then multiple by 80 per cent to get the length of the cuff, and 40 per cent to get the width. 

If you have a disability or your arm is too big for any of the models available, opt for a machine with a wrist cuff instead.

Stick to simple displays

Make sure you know what you’re deciphering on the screen. Most models keep things very simple and straightforward with digital displays, but it helps to keep in mind that you need to understand what you’re reading. 

Consider how you’d like to document readings

Thanks to the rise of the digital age, many blood pressure monitors are available in smart models these days. Hence, you can sync your readings with your phone, computer or health and fitness apps. Have a think about how you’d best like to upload and track your recordings, particularly if they need to be readily accessible the next time you visit your GP. 

Think about the importance of portability 

This will depend on your personal circumstances, but for the most part, a machine that can travel easily with you makes life a lot simpler. Herein, look for something that can run on battery for a substantial period of time.