Blood Pressure Monitors: According to the World Health Organization, hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects one in five adults across the globe and is the cause of half of all deaths related to stroke and heart disease. Many people are unaware of their heart condition until an event like a heart attack occurs. Monitoring your blood pressure at home is a great way to ensure you are able to detect early warning signs of heart disease, as well as keep on top of existing conditions.
Using an At-Home Blood Pressure Monitor
The American Heart Association (AHA) has created a helpful guide to help you learn to use your at-home blood pressure monitor. The most important things to remember are that you should act the same way as if you were at the doctor’s office- sit up straight, feet on the floor, and breathe normally, relaxed. Many monitors have an easy push-button that starts to inflate the wrist cuff, and others will begin to inflate automatically when the monitor is in the correct position. The AHA notes that many times, a reading will be high and it might be a good idea to recheck before panicking at your results. If after waiting for five minutes your levels are over 180/120, or are followed by shortness of breath or chest pains, then you should reach out to your healthcare team or call 911.
Personal blood pressure monitors all have their own qualities, but generally, they are able to store readings for a period of time so you can track your results and share them with your health providers, in addition to being more informed about your own health. Some monitors can store data for more than one user, and other monitors connect to smartphone apps or via Bluetooth to help make tracking your BP results, heart rate, and other health information easier. Simply bring your monitor with you to your doctor’s appointments, and talk about your results. Your doctor can also help you verify that your at-home monitor is as accurate as the readings they are taking in the office.
Your blood pressure can be a sensitive issue with your body, and it is extremely important that your blood pressure measurement tools are accurate and in perfect working order, especially when you need to keep track of your BP. If your monitor has bad batteries, for example, inaccurate results could lead to serious health risks for you. Make sure to keep fresh batteries in your monitor at all times, and keep spare batteries with the instruction manual so that you know how to fix any issues with your device. Keep reading to see our choices for 2020’s best wrist blood pressure monitors, and learn more about the monitors to figure out which one is best for your lifestyle.
Budget Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors for Seniors
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Good to Know
Before purchasing a blood pressure monitor, talk with your doctor about the key features you should look for, especially if they are recommending home readings.
How to Read and Use a Digital Blood Pressure Monitor
There are four levels of blood pressure:
- Stage 1 hypertension
- Stage 2 hypertension
On your blood pressure monitor, you’ll notice two different numbers: the systolic and the diastolic numbers. The CDC states that the first number (systolic) measures the pressure in your vessels when your heart beats. The second number (diastolic) measures the blood pressure in your vessels in between heartbeats.
Most blood pressure monitors are pretty straightforward. They measure the systolic and diastolic blood pressure numbers along with your pulse and give you an average reading of your results. Some will even track your irregular heartbeat to check for any underlying issues.
Also, read about the Bloodpressure X.
Steps to Use a Digital Blood Pressure Monitor
Take an accurate in-home blood pressure reading by following the steps below:
- Get ready. Make sure you’re comfortable and relaxed. Your bladder should be empty, as a full one can impact the reading. Avoid smoking, exercise, and caffeine prior to taking your blood pressure.
- Get positioned. Comfortably seated is the best position for you to take a blood pressure reading. Remove any clothing that is tight or bulky around the upper arm, or roll up your sleeve. Place both feet on the floor (no crossed legs!) and rest your forearm comfortably on a table at heart level. Place your arm with the palm of your hand facing up.
- Find your pulse. Locate the brachial artery by finding your pulse in the center of your elbow. Press your index and middle fingers lightly against the inside of your elbow. If you can’t find it by feeling, use the arm cuff to locate your pulse.
- Use the right sized cuff. For an accurate reading, you need a blood pressure cuff that fits correctly. The length of the cuff should equal at least 80% of the circumference of your upper arm.
- Apply the blood pressure cuff. Wrap the cuff around your upper arm (it might help to have someone assist you). The lower edge of the cuff should be about one inch above the pit of your elbow. The cuff should feel snug, but not tight.
- Power up the monitor. Hold the bulb in the hand opposite the arm in the cuff, and press the power button on your monitor. You should see all the display symbols flash on the screen, followed by a zero. The zero means that the monitor is ready for action.
- Inflate the cuff. Squeeze the bulb or press the start button if your digital monitor has automatic cuff inflation. Keep inflating until the gauge reads about 30 points above your expected systolic blood pressure.
- Get your readings. Watch the monitor for the pressure readings. They will be displayed on either the left or right side of the screen. You’ll hear a long beep, which means the blood pressure measurement is complete. Take note of the pressures on the display. Systolic pressure should be on the left and the diastolic pressure should be on the right. The monitor may also display your pulse rate.
- Finally, let the cuff completely deflate.
What Makes A Good Blood Pressure Monitor?
Almost all manufacturers state that their blood pressure monitors are accurate. That is not the case with all of them. Only the more expensive ones offer consistent readings. In reality, it is quite difficult to tell which model works well and the only way to get a good picture is to check the reviews. Here are the signs to look out for when searching for a digital wrist blood pressure monitor:
- How accurate is it? It is important to check how accurate a device is. In some cases, users do not place it correctly on the wrists which affect the readings.
- How long do the batteries last? Some models can work for weeks on fresh batteries while others tend to last much less. Usually, users will report such issues.
- How big is the LCD display? The size of the LCD display determines how easy it is to read. For an elderly person, a small LCD display might not be such a good idea. Even if the device is larger, a bigger LCD screen is preferable.
- How big is the internal memory? Usually, all blood pressure monitors have an internal memory. This can vary anywhere from 50 to 1000. How many are needed is a matter of personal needs and preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions
Wrist blood pressure monitors are favored for the superior level of comfort these offer over alternative solutions, but their advantages don’t stop here. The cuff will inflate to a lesser degree than with an upper arm monitor, and besides applying less pressure on the user, this will also significantly cut down on the time necessary to take a reading.
Its downsides have to do with accuracy. Since the area involved is further from the heart, the measurement will naturally be less accurate. Furthermore, this will make it more susceptible to be influenced by the body’s position.
As the name suggests, the cuff for the upper arm model will be placed midway between your elbow and shoulder, while the wrist one will, well, hug the wrist. This makes it more convenient since fewer articles of clothing will need to be removed for taking a measurement. Furthermore, this can be used by overweight people whose excess tissue around the upper arm might otherwise affect accuracy. While still fairly reliable, wrist models are less accurate than upper arm ones, and your body must follow a strict position for a true reading.
While there are many used blood pressure monitors available, it’s recommended that you buy a new one. The accuracy and reliability of your blood pressure monitor will determine the course of your hypertension care and may save your life. You want to make sure your machine works correctly. But if you do decide to buy a used one, be sure to take it to your doctor’s office and have it calibrated.
Most health insurance plans do not cover blood pressure monitors. Medicare will most likely not cover the cost of one either. Thankfully, there are plenty of affordable options available through sellers like Amazon.
Numerous studies have shown wrist blood pressure monitors to be lacking in this regard when compared to arm strap monitors with the majority of results coming off a little higher. Also, their accuracy seems to vary to a greater extent when accounting for quality and price, with the best of these being comparable to upper arm monitors.
However, for everyday needs, their accuracy is considered satisfactory, especially if the doctor analysing the results is aware of the device’s particularities. Precision can also be increased with user experience since their readings are dependent on the body’s position at the time.
First ensure that no drugs, alcohol, tobacco or spicy food was consumed for at least 30 minutes before taking a reading. While relaxed, place yourself at a table, with the feet flat upon the ground, legs uncrossed, and a straight back. Place your elbow on the table, and lift the wrist to heart level, facing away from your body at around 30-45 degrees. The cuff must be wrapped as per manufacturer specifications and the screen facing you. Push the on/off button and wait calmly as the cuff inflates then deflates for the machine to take its reading.