Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home
Home blood pressure monitoring can be a good way for you and your doctor to learn how your blood pressure changes during the day. You can use one of two types of blood pressure monitors, and each has pros and cons.
This type of monitor has a cuff that you inflate by hand and a dial gauge with a pointer. Most models are easy to carry and usually inexpensive. Some models have easy-to-read gauges and a special cuff that allows you to work it with one hand. These monitors need to be calibrated at least once a year.
These monitors are easy to use and read. Most digital monitors are portable and can be used with one hand. Keep in mind that digital monitors are sensitive to body movement and don't work well on certain people. They also need batteries and can be expensive.
Talk with your doctor about which type might be best for you. No matter what kind of monitor you use, take it with you to your doctor's office, so you can compare it with the monitor in the office and make sure it is accurate.
Tips for purchasing a blood pressure monitor
The American Heart Association recommends a cuff-style, automatic, upper arm (bicep) monitor.
The AHA dose not recommend wrist and finger monitors because their results are not as reliable as the upper arm monitors.
Be sure the monitor has been tested and approved by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, the British Hypertension Society, and the International Protocol for the Validation of Automated BP Measuring Devices.
If the monitor will be used on a child, or for someone who is elderly or pregnant, make sure the monitor is validated/approved for these conditions.
People with smaller or larger sized arms may need a special cuff size. Measure around the upper arm and select a monitor that comes with the correct cuff size.
Check your monitor's reading with your healthcare provider's reading when the device is new and once a year after that.