Are At-Home Blood Pressure Monitors Accurate?

  • Posted on: Feb 6 2023
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Suppose that you have hypertension, a family history of heart disease, or just find your blood pressure slowly creeping upward. In any of these cases, your physician may recommend you begin tracking and journaling your blood pressure daily. 

Cardiovascular Wellness’s expert cardiologists work with each patient to develop a comprehensive, individualized care plan. Our Hicksville and Lake Success offices provide heart care to all of Nassau County, New York.

Accurate journaling of your blood pressure is a valuable tool in determining medication effectiveness, tracking trends, and obtaining accurate readings outside of a doctor’s office. However, monitoring your blood pressure at home is only helpful if your blood pressure monitor is accurate. 

Are at-home blood pressure monitors accurate?

There are dozens of ways to monitor your blood pressure at home, including through smartphone apps, watches, and other devices. However, many newer methods of measuring your blood pressure are unproven and inaccurate. 

The American Heart Association recommends using an automatic, cuff-style bicep monitor for at-home tracking. Finger, wrist, and smartphone-based blood-pressure monitors, which claim to use pulse wave technology, are generally less accurate than traditional, cuff-style monitors.

How do I choose an accurate blood pressure monitor?

While a cuff-style upper arm monitor offers the most accuracy, other factors contribute to choosing the right monitor for your needs. Most importantly, you want a blood pressure monitor that correctly fits your arm. 

Other vital factors include features like automatic adjustments and a clear, digital display. The American Heart Association recommends speaking with your doctor or pharmacist about their preferred monitors or searching for a validated monitor.

Proper Fit

Blood pressure monitors generally come in three sizes: adult small, medium, and large. An adult small fits an arm circumference of about 8.5 to 10 inches; an adult medium fits about 10.5 to 13 inches, and an adult large fits about 13.5 to 17 inches.

An improperly fitting cuff is one of the most common reasons for inaccurate readings. 

How can I accurately track my blood pressure?

The best way to check your blood pressure monitor for accuracy is by bringing it to your next doctor’s appointment and checking your results against the doctor’s equipment. 

Once you know your blood pressure monitor is accurate, you can follow some simple guidelines to achieve the most consistent results.

Be Calm

Don’t smoke, exercise, or drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages for 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure.

Be Still

Before testing, sit down in a comfortable position for a minimum of 5 minutes. Rest your left arm on a flat surface. Take deep breaths and relax your muscles while you keep both feet flat on the floor and a straight, supported spine.

Fit the Cuff Properly

Attach the cuff directly to your arm with no clothing between the cuff and your skin. The bottom edge of the blood pressure cuff should sit directly above the bend in your elbow. 

Watch the Clock

When journaling your blood pressure, try to measure it around the same time every day, such as mornings or evenings, to see consistent, accurate results.

Take Three

Some blood pressure monitors automatically take multiple tests and average results. If yours doesn’t, then get in the habit of doing that on your own, waiting 30-60 seconds between tests. Then you can average your readings, which is often more accurate than a single test. 

Bring Your Blood Pressure Log to Cardiovascular Wellness

At Cardiovascular Wellness in Nassau County, New York, we want our patients to take an active role in their health care plan. Tracking your daily blood pressure provides our team with an essential tool for optimizing your health. 

If you’re looking to work with an expert team of cardiologists to manage your high blood pressure and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, schedule your appointment at Cardiovascular Wellness’s Lake Success or Hicksville office today.

Posted in: Heart Health

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