Here are a few tips when choosing a home blood pressure monitor:
- Look for an automatic, cuff-style bicep (upper arm) monitor. Wrist and finger monitors are less reliable. Automatic devices are easy to use and only require you to place the cuff, push a button and read the measurement on a digital display.
- Choose one that’s been validated. Check validatebp.org or ask your pharmacist or care provider for recommendations.
- Make sure the cuff fits your upper arm properly.
- For added convenience, choose a monitor that keeps an internal log of your measurements. Some devices even calculate an average blood pressure over time or can transmit the readings to your physician.
- Select a monitor that offers a battery backup or an alert that lets you know the battery is running low.
- Once purchased, bring the monitor to your next doctor’s appointment to have the readings compared to your care provider’s readings. Your care provider can also help ensure you’re using the device properly.
- Replace your monitor every 10 years.
Self-monitoring blood pressure at home is important because high blood pressure is a top risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can also lead to other serious conditions such as kidney disease, heart failure and eye damage.
“The readings you record at home are important because they reveal how the situations you’re dealing with day to day are affecting your heart health,” Aiken says. “It’s OK to get some highs and lows. It reflects how you’re feeling at any given time. But if you’re getting high readings on a consistent basis, you need to talk to your doctor about getting it under control.”