Blood pressure monitors

13dec blood pressure monitors hero default

At risk of high pressure? Home monitoring can help.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is often called the “silent killer” — 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. Home monitoring can help. We’ve tested a range of arm and wrist monitors, list useful buying tips and features to look for, plus provide advice on how to lower your blood pressure.

From our test

View all

Join us now to unlock this content

Unlock all of Consumer from just $12 a month

  • Heaps of buying advice so you can choose with confidence
  • Independent reviews of thousands of products and services
  • Personal advice an email or phone call away on our advice line (members only)
Log in

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.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is a measure of how hard your heart has to work to pump blood around the body.

It’s measured as two numbers:

  • The higher number (“systolic”) is the pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts.
  • The lower number (“diastolic”) is the pressure when your heart rests between beats.

An ideal adult blood pressure for most people is less than 130/80 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) or lower, although it’ll vary. Your blood pressure will be higher if you’re stressed, smoking or if you’ve just been exercising. It also increases as you get older and after consuming certain food or drink, like caffeine or salty food.

How high is too high?

There’s no magic number that means your blood pressure is too high – only your doctor can tell you.

In general it’s considered elevated if it’s consistently more than 140/90. But elevated blood pressure (also called hypertension) doesn’t necessarily mean you’re at risk of heart disease. And, conversely, your doctor may think you’re at risk even if only one of the two numbers is elevated.

In weighing up your risk your doctor will consider other factors such as your age, gender, cholesterol levels, ethnicity, family history, weight, and whether you’re a smoker.

15apr withings bp 801 default

Going wireless

The Nokia BP-801 (pictured) and iHealth BP7 link to your smartphone via an app (you need to switch on your phone’s Bluetooth function to launch the app). They show your blood pressure measurement on your phone rather than having their own display.

What to look for

Buying a monitor? Look for these features.

  • The cuff can be an arm or wrist type. Our test found wrist monitors were as accurate as most arm models. Following instructions on the cuff’s placement 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 adapter can be handy if you run out of 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 data storage capacity of the smartphone-linked monitors depends on the size of the smartphone.
  • The buttons and display should be easy to read.

Useful buying tips

Try it before you buy it.

  • 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.

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.

More information

Family and health clp promo default

More Family & health reports

Check out more of our tests, articles, news and surveys in our Family & health section.

Browse reports