How to choose the best blood pressure monitor

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Keeping track of your blood pressure numbers is very important.

One in three American adults has high blood pressure, and that includes about 70 percent of seniors 65 and older.

This condition multiplies your risk of heart attack, stroke, or premature death.

Experts say if you have high blood pressure (140/90 or higher) or prehypertension (between 120/80 and 139/89) you need to be monitoring your blood pressure at home.

Savvy Senior columnist Jim Miller stopped by KFOR to talk with us about the latest home blood pressure monitors.

The two most popular types of home blood pressure monitors on the market today are (electric and/or battery powered) automatic arm monitors, and automatic wrist monitors.

With an automatic arm monitor, you simply wrap the cuff around your bicep and with the push of one button the cuff inflates and deflates automatically giving you your blood pressure reading on the display window in a matter of seconds.

Wrist monitors work similarly, except they attach to the wrist. Wrist monitors are also smaller in size and a bit more comfortable to use than the arm monitors, but they tend to be a little less accurate.

To help you choose the best monitor for you, here are several things you need to check into:

Fit: Using a cuff that’s the wrong size can result in a bad reading. Most arm models have two sizes or an adjustable cuff that fits most people. Make sure your choice fits the circumference of your upper arm.

Accuracy: Check the packaging to make sure the monitor has been independently tested and validated for accuracy and reliability. You can see a list of validated monitors at dableducational.org.

Ease of use: Be sure the display on the monitor is easy to read and understand, and that the buttons are big enough. The directions for applying the cuff and operating the monitor should be clear.

Extra features: Many monitors come with additional features such as irregular heartbeat detection that checks for arrhythmias and other abnormalities; a risk category indicator that tells you whether your blood pressure is in the high range; a data-averaging function that allows you to take multiple readings and get an overall average; multiple user memory that allows two or more users to save previous readings; and computer connections so you can download the data to your computer.

Portability: If you plan to take your monitor with you while traveling, look for one with a carrying case.

Anyone in need of a blood pressure monitor can find them at pharmacies, medical supply stores, and online.

Prices typically range anywhere from $30 to $120.

For more information on how to measure your blood pressure accurately at home, see the American Heart Association Blood Pressure Monitoring tutorial page at homeBPmonitoring.org.

 

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