Blood pressure monitor buying guide
For people with borderline or high blood pressure, home testing with the best blood pressure monitor is more important than ever. Recent research shows that an average of several readings over time provides the most reliable measurement. This task is essential for taking multiple readings and can actually be more accurate than the results you get at a doctor’s office.
Our experts say that good candidates for at-home monitoring include:
- Seniors, whose blood pressure can vary.
- People who experience “white-coat hypertension,” a spike in blood pressure when they are tested in a doctor’s office or hospital; and
- People with diabetes, for whom tight blood pressure control is important.
How we tested
Our most recent tests (see Review) of blood pressure monitors found some that are worth recommending.
Staff members assessed each model for comfort. Our testers compared the readings from those devices with readings taken with a mercury sphygmomanometer, often used in medical settings, to rate accuracy. A sensory panel evaluated how easy it was to use each monitor.
How to choose
Pick a top-scoring model that has features that will make testing easier for you, such as the ability of more than one user to store readings. Blood pressure monitors may be available at a discount, and some insurance plans may provide coverage for them. Check with your provider.
Check the fit
For arm models, make sure the blood pressure monitor you choose has a cuff that fits the circumference of your upper arm. Using a cuff that’s the wrong size can result in an inaccurate reading. Most models we tested have two cuffs or a cuff that adjusts to fit most people. Wrist models also adjust to fit most people.
Ease of use
Make sure that the display on the monitor is easy to read and understand and that the buttons are big enough and intuitive. The directions for applying the cuff and operating the monitor should be clear.
An irregular-heartbeat detector checks for arrhythmias and other abnormalities. (We did not test those features.) A risk-category indicator tells you whether your blood pressure is in the high range. Multiple-user memory allows two or more users to save readings.
Automatic arm monitors
This type automatically inflates the cuff and displays the readings.