When considering buying a blood pressure monitor for home use, look into the following factors.
One of the most important aspects of a blood pressure monitor is its ability to provide consistently accurate readings. Look for the following three phrases in product descriptions when trying to determine the accuracy of the monitor:
- Clinically validated: It either meets the requisite U.S. Blood Pressure Validated Device List (VDL) criteria for clinical accuracy as determined through an independent review process or is otherwise independently tested for accuracy according to standards set by organizations like the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, the British and Irish Hypertension Society and the International Protocol for the Validation of Automated Blood Pressure Measuring Devices.
- FDA cleared: The Food and Drug Administration determines the device meets its criteria for blood pressure cuff devices.
Many blood pressure monitors offer an averaging feature as well with the goal of providing an accurate depiction of your blood pressure. The devices often take three consecutive readings and average them together, accounting for any variability and giving you a single, more accurate data set.
User error can also impact accuracy significantly, so be sure to follow the product instructions exactly as they are written.
Many people use blood pressure monitor devices to track their blood pressure readings over time, in which case data storage of previous readings comes in handy. Some devices only store around 30 readings while others can store as many as 2,000, so think about your storage needs before purchasing a monitor.
What’s more, lots of monitors sync with smartphone apps that can then provide additional data storage outside of the device itself. If you’re tech savvy and like the idea of having your blood pressure information at your fingertips to share with your physician, consider a Bluetooth-compatible monitor with app-based data storage.
Lastly, some blood pressure monitors only store data for one user while others support data storage for multiple users. If you plan on sharing your blood pressure monitor with another member of your household, look into the number of users the device can support.
Display is another important factor, especially for older adults with vision impairments. Look for a blood pressure monitor device with a clear, simple and easy-to-read display screen to prevent misunderstanding your blood pressure readings. If your vision is highly compromised, some devices offer audio readouts as well.
A blood pressure monitor won’t be helpful (and you probably won’t use it very often) if it doesn’t feel intuitive. Consider the way the monitor lays out information, where buttons are placed, how easy it is to place the cuff correctly on your arm and whether those details feel natural to you.
Beyond the basics listed above, some blood pressure monitors include special features, such as:
- Pulse monitoring
- Monitoring to indicate an irregular heartbeat
- Color-coded readings to make it easier to track by blood pressure stages
- Pre-formed arm cuffs for a more comfortable fit and accurate reading
- Wireless design for easier use on the go