Accuracy And Convenience: The Best Blood Pressure Monitors

There are a number of issues to consider when purchasing a blood pressure monitor for use in the home. One important thing to determine which body part the cuff will be placed around. This can be done on the arm, wrist or finger. Some monitors have a mark to indicate where the cuff needs to fit in relationship to the arm, wrist or finger. In measuring the blood pressure or pulse of an uncooperative individual, the wrist monitors typically work better because if the individual is moving their arms, the monitor can be placed on the wrist in an easier fashion than on the upper arm. Those with poor circulation are safer not to use the finger tip monitors because they can have readings that are erroneous when hands are cold. The diabetic can also get erroneous readings from and should avoid the monitors that use the finger to measure blood pressure. The traditional cuff and stethoscope method are recommended for professional use only.

A second consideration is who is to be taking the blood pressure of the individual. If it is the individual who needs his or her blood pressure monitored, who will actually take the reading, then it is probably better to purchase a monitor that inflates automatically and does not require an individual to inflate the cuff (those with an internal pump). Machines with internal pumps inflate without the use of an external pump. Monitors with external pumps require pumping on behalf of a person to inflate/deflate the cuff, which might be hard to when measuring ones own blood pressure.

The size of cuff must also be appropriate for the individual having their blood pressure taken. Standard cuffs included with most monitors fit an arm from around 8.6-12.6 inches in circumference but optional smaller or larger cuffs are available for optional purchase. Machines that measure the blood pressure by placing the cuff around wrist usually have cuff measurements around 5.3 to 7.7 inches in circumference.


Another consideration is the importance of keeping a record of readings in between the times the individual's blood pressure is taken. Machines that retain recordings from the sixty last readings to those that only retain the most recent reading can be purchased. Some machines will retain record readings for two different individuals and includes the month/date hour and minute records of the readings.

Accuracy of readings is something many makers include in the information on the machines and many state accuracy within three increments above or below the given reading for the blood pressure and within five percent above or below the reading given for the pulse. For example a reading of 120/80 is likely to indicate an actual blood pressure between 117/77 and 123/83. A pulse reading if 80 is likely to indicate an actual pulse of between 76 and 84. Machines are generally battery operated and accuracy could be decreased if a battery was to be running down. The batteries should be tested occasionally for strength and replaced as needed. If readings seem inconsistent with those when taken by a health care professional then it is a good idea to have the monitor checked out by a professional, especially if the possibility of low batteries is ruled out as a cause. Occasionally, monitors require recalibration by the manufacturer.

Other considerations might include the readability of the displayed results, if the machine can operate on batteries and electricity and the length of the warranty provided by the manufacturer. Price is also likely a consideration. Several machines run in the vicinity of $50.00 to $100.00. Purchasing a used or never/rarely used machine at an online auction, garage sale or etc. might save money but the buyer must beware that the warranty could be void and accuracy could be compromised. If the manufacturer's papers are not included in the sale, which tell the consumer the accuracy which they claim, the purchase might not be a wise choice.

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