Types of monitors
The two most popular types of home blood pressure monitors sold today are automatic arm monitors and automatic wrist monitors that are electric and/or battery powered.
With an automatic arm monitor, you simply wrap the cuff around your bicep and with the push of one button the cuff inflates and deflates automatically to give a blood pressure reading on the display window in a matter of seconds.
Wrist monitors work similarly, except they attach to the wrist. Wrist monitors are also smaller in weight and size, which makes them more portable and a bit more comfortable to use than arm monitors, but they tend to be a little less accurate.
Be sure the cuff fits the circumference of your upper arm. Using a cuff that’s the wrong size can result in an inaccurate reading. Most arm models have two sizes or an adjustable cuff that fits most people. Wrist models also fit most people.
Be sure the display on the monitor is easy to read and that the buttons are large. The directions for applying the cuff and operating the monitor should be clear.
Many automatic monitors come with additional features such as irregular heartbeat detection that checks for arrhythmias and other abnormalities, a risk category indicator that tells whether your blood pressure is in the high range, a data-averaging function that allows you to take multiple readings and get an overall average, multiple user memory that allows two or more users to save readings and downloadable memory that lets you transmit data to a computer or smartphone.
Where to buy
You can find blood pressure monitors at pharmacies, medical supply stores or online, and you don’t need a prescription to buy one. Prices typically range between $40 and $100.
In most cases, original Medicare will not cover a home blood pressure monitor, but if you have a Medicare Advantage plan or a private health insurance policy it’s worth checking into because some plans may provide coverage.
The best automatic arm monitors as recommended by Consumer Reports include the Omron Platinum BP5450 ($75), Omron Silver BP5250 ($50), Omron 10 Series BP7450 ($100), A&D Medical UA767F ($45) and Rite Aid Deluxe Automatic BP3AR1-4DRITE ($37). The top wrist monitors are the Omron 7 Series BP6350 ($80) and the Equate (Walmart) 4500 Series ($40).
After you buy a monitor, it’s a good idea to take it to your doctor’s office so they can check its accuracy and teach you the proper techniques of how and when to use it.
You can also get more detailed information on how to accurately measure your blood pressure at home at Heart.org/HBP by clicking on “Learn How to Monitor Your Blood Pressure at Home.”