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Blood pressure monitors

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Check your blood pressure at home.

If you're worried about high blood pressure, home monitoring can help. We tested 10 monitors for accuracy and assessed their comfort, instructions, screen quality and more.

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About our test

We tested 10 blood pressure monitors (1 wrist and 9 arm models).

Accuracy

To check the monitors’ accuracy we took readings from a group of 9 men and women. We then compared the results with those obtained from a hospital-grade monitor.

Ease of use

We also wanted to know if the monitors were easy to use. We assessed the instructions, how easy the monitors were to fit and operate, screen quality, the information displayed onscreen, and how comfortable the cuff was.

All monitors were very easy to fit and remove with an easy push start button to take a reading. Some models took a bit of effort to align the cuff with the artery.

Compare the blood pressure monitors we tested.

What to look for

  • The cuff can be an arm or wrist type. Our test found that the wrist monitor was as accurate as most of the arm models. Following the instructions on the placement of the cuff is important. It must fit snugly – too tight will give you a higher reading and too loose may not give you one at all.
  • Irregular heart beat display indicates that the heart rate is not steady.
  • Hypertension indicator warns when your blood pressure is too high – time to see your doctor.
  • Mains-power adaptor can be handy if you run out of spare batteries.
  • Data storage (also called memory) allows you to flick back through your previous readings. Monitors with double (“2x”) capacity can record readings for 2 people.
  • The buttons and display should be easy to read.
 

Why monitor?

High blood pressure (hypertension) is often called the “silent killer” – it affects at least 1 in 5 adults but many people don’t know they have it.

If your blood pressure stays high for a long time it can greatly increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Some people like to monitor their blood pressure because it gives them a sense of control over their treatment. It can also be a good motivator if you’re trying to lower your blood pressure by making lifestyle changes.

Your doctor may recommend home monitoring to assess changes in your medication. Some people become so anxious visiting the doctor that their blood pressure shoots up. Home monitoring can help identify this “white coat hypertension” and eliminate unnecessary treatment.

It’s important you interpret the results from your monitor with your doctor.

Useful buying tips

Keep these pointers in mind when buying a blood pressure monitor.

  • Ask the shop to demonstrate the monitor before you buy.
  • If you’re buying an arm monitor make sure the cuff is the correct size for your arm. A cuff that’s too narrow may overestimate your blood pressure.
  • When you first get your monitor take it to your doctor to have its accuracy (and your technique) checked. Repeat this every 6 months or so. Also get the monitor checked if you drop it or if readings change suddenly.
  • Read the instruction manual first to familiarise yourself with the monitor and how to recalibrate it.

Lowering your blood pressure

Some people can lower or control their blood pressure with a combination of diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes.

  • Eat a diet high in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, and low in fat, especially saturated fat. Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet.
  • Be active. On most days, try to spend at least 30 minutes being active. But check with your doctor before you start any vigorous exercise.
  • Try to lose excess weight and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Consider stress-reducing techniques such as yoga, pilates, and meditation or prayer.
  • If lifestyle changes aren't enough to lower your blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medication.

Low blood pressure

If you have low blood pressure, you probably won't need to do anything about it. Though some people faint or feel tired, most people with low blood pressure don't have any associated health problems.

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