Home Blood Pressure Monitors:
Choosing One Not For The Amateur
Not all devices are suitable for home blood pressure monitors so let’s discuss which characteristics are necessary and which are not. First, let’s list the types available and choose the most appropriate.
(A more comprehensive description of the types is on this page:) Blood Pressure Monitor
- Mercury-filled, with stethoscope, cuff and inflation bulb.
- Aneroid, with analog dial, stethoscope, cuff and inflation bulb.
- Digital, arm, with or without inflation bulb. Some have memory, some print out, some average the readings and some allow multiple users in memory. Some made for right arm, some made just for left arm.
- Digital wrist monitors.
- Digital finger monitors.
In general, the left arm should read about 4 mm Hg lower than the right. The digitals tend to read higher than the others. So perhaps a digital on the left arm would come close to even out.
Now we choose a type, then we’ll go on to other attributes. This is not difficult here. The finger and the wrist digital monitors can be scratched because these locations have too many problems to overcome and are inaccurate.
My experience with the digital home blood pressure monitors when they first came out years ago was not good. They seemed temperamental and inconsistent to me. This is both from the ones I owned and the ones I saw in action.
Now the modern ones are much better and many are able to pass the standards for accuracy and reliability of the AAMI (Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation) and other evaluating agencies. This is largely due to the new oscillometric technique.
Either the mercury or the aneroid will do nicely followed by the digital.
The mercury, though a little more accurate and reliable, is heavy and bulky.
The aneroid, nearly as accurate and reliable, is light and small and portable. Costs less, too.
The digitals are tops in convenience and ease of use.
The nod then goes to...the Aneroid on the basis of accuracy, reliability and portability.
A close second choice might be one of the better quality digitals that are approved by the AAMI. This is on the basis of having nearly the accuracy and outstanding in convenience and ease of use.
The digital monitor I'm using both personally and professionally is rapidly convincing me that it is the best choice for the non-professional person.
Some Other characteristics of the aneroid:
Pocket aneroid: Gauge hangs on cuff, requires contortions to see. Delete.
Wall mount or mounted on rolling stand: Much more expensive. Obvious delete.
Hand aneroid: Gauge and inflation bulb all in one piece. Yes, this is it!
Inflation and deflation valve: Trigger-release versus screw-type. Trigger-release is marvelously better!
So there we have it, the Hand Aneroid with trigger-release valve. It is the most suitable instrument for home blood pressure monitors.
But a good second choice is a selected digital especially for the non-professional.
This is easy. The stethoscope can be almost any decently made one and need not be doctor-quality. They even make disposable ones for contaminated hospital rooms.
Doctor's Practical Guide
My recently bought trigger-release aneroid is happily being used on myself and my patients as well.
A reasonable second choice in home blood pressure monitors is the better quality selected digital. I am presently evaluating one of these. In general I have come to believe that selected digital ones may very well be the best choice for the non-professional.
My particular digital cuff, called "Easy Fit", was a very pleasant surprise. This specially made cuff practically attaches itself to your arm, then all you have to do is relax your arm and press the start button.
Operating the blood pressure measuring device is not all there is to taking blood pressure. I have written a comprehensive booklet on "How To Take Blood Pressure" with tips and tricks plus a list of pitfalls to avoid.
Also included is where and how to get help if you need it. You can check it out at HowTo Take Blood Pressure Booklet
If you still don't think you need to measure your own blood pressure then read this page HowTo Take Blood Pressure which tells Why as well as How.
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