You can track your blood pressure by using a home monitor between check-ups. To choose the best monitor for you, ask your doctor for advice and balance convenience with accuracy:
- Know your options: Aneroid models are inexpensive and easy to transport. They include a stethoscope. Some have extra-large dials for easier reading, but they aren’t recommended if you have trouble hearing or have poor dexterity in your hands. Electronic (digital) models are the most popular and can be expensive, but they’re easy to use. However, if your heart rhythm is usually irregular, an electronic model may give you an inaccurate reading. Wrist monitors are difficult to calibrate, and digital finger units aren’t reliable.
- Get a good fit: Most monitors have standard-size inflatable arm cuffs. If your arm is too large or too small for the cuff, buy the right size. A poor fit reduces accuracy. The inflatable portion of the cuff should wrap around 80 percent or more of your upper arm.
- Consider your abilities: Is the gauge or digital display large enough to read easily? Do you hear well through a stethoscope? Can you easily pump the inflatable cuff?
- Test before you buy: Ask your health care professional or medical supply salesperson
to show you how to get the most accurate reading.
- Learn how to use it properly: After you buy a blood pressure monitor, take it with you to your doctor’s office. In addition to making sure the device works properly, your doctor or nurse can help you learn how to use it.
- Check accuracy: Every six to 12 months, have your home monitor checked against a standardized unit at your doctor’s office, fire department or public health service.