Looking for new ways to embrace health and wellness? Tracking heart health is a good start, and it’s easy to do when you invest in a blood pressure monitor. And because these devices are portable, you can even bring it to your next doctor’s appointment and share your readings.
Finding the right blood pressure monitor involves choosing a design that suits your needs. Some people prefer simple models with one-touch readings, while others are interested in high-tech blood pressure monitors with companion apps and in-depth tracking. No matter what you’re looking for in a blood pressure monitor, there’s at least one worth your consideration.
Blood pressure monitors measure systolic and diastolic pressures in your heart that are expressed in two numbers. Normal blood pressure for adults, for example, is 120/80, whereas blood pressure above 140/90 is hypertension.
According to MedlinePlus, the top number is systolic pressure, which refers to how hard blood pumps against artery walls. The bottom number, diastolic pressure, measures the pressure inside arteries between heartbeats.
Blood pressure monitors track heart health by displaying real-time readings, and on some devices, logging them up to a month or longer. That’s not the only information these monitors provide, though. Many models measure heart rate and rhythm, and some will alert you when the readings are high, low or irregular.
There are two types of blood pressure monitors, which are distinguished by where they’re placed on the body.
Arm cuff blood pressure monitors, similar to the ones used in doctors’ offices, are placed around the bicep. Wrist blood pressure monitors, as their name implies, are placed on the wrist. Both types of monitors inflate to take pressure readings, so you’ll feel a temporary squeeze for a few seconds.
It’s worth noting that the majority of blood pressure monitors available are automatic, in which they take a reading at the press of a button. Manual blood pressure cuffs are available, but they won’t offer accurate readings unless you know how to use them properly. As a result, most of these are typically used by trained medical professionals — and not the average consumer.
Generally, blood pressure monitors share the same basic designs and features. However, there are a few variations across models. It’s important to examine differences so you can select the right blood pressure monitor to track your health at home.
Blood pressure monitor cuffs have adjustable Velcro closures that accommodate most individuals. Certain monitors have smaller cuffs specifically designed for taking readings on children, as well. What varies the most among cuffs, however, is material. Some models have soft velour cuffs, while others are made with neoprene or other synthetic materials.
Ease of use is often a top consideration when choosing a blood pressure monitor. Many people prefer large, high-contrast displays that are clear and visible. Certain blood pressure monitors announce readings, as well. One-touch operation is another attractive feature that streamlines use and minimizes the potential for human error, which may impact a readings’ accuracy.
Like many other health-monitoring devices, many blood pressure monitors have high-tech features that offer next-level tracking. Some of these models have companion apps that log readings, and depending on their design, they may transmit information to your doctor. Other blood pressure monitors interpret weekly or monthly trends. A growing number of blood pressure monitors also pair with fitness trackers and smartwatches.
Although blood pressure monitors are often recommended for older adults and individuals with cardiac conditions, such as hypertension, the devices are beneficial for anyone interested in tracking heart health. Many blood pressure monitors let you create several user profiles to log readings, which means multiple households can use them.
Blood pressure monitors are often used in conjunction with other health tracking devices to provide a better overview of overall health, including bathroom scales, fitness trackers and smart thermometers. Some people also invest in pulse oximeters, which measure heart rate and oxygen saturation. However, there is some debate in the medical field as to the accuracy of models used outside medical settings.
Entry-level blood pressure monitors cost $40 and below. If you’re looking for more advanced settings, such as multiple user profiles, you’ll spend closer to $80. The most advanced blood pressure monitors with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity and companion apps run $90-$160.
Made by a brand known for quality devices, this simple monitor stores up to 14 readings for one user. The device meets the Validated Device Listing criteria, which means it has been independently reviewed and verified for accuracy.
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A popular mid-range option, this blood pressure monitor has an easy-to-read LCD screen with large digits. It stores up to 120 readings for two users and alerts you when it detects irregular heartbeats.
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This Wi-Fi and Bluetooth model syncs to the Health Mate app, which lets you view histories and trends for comprehensive tracking. The device has a rechargeable battery that lasts for 6 months on a single charge.
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If you’re on a budget, this HoMedics blood pressure monitor offers the most bang for the buck with multi-user memory that stores 60 readings for each profile. It comes with a storage case and two AAA batteries.
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This Paramed blood pressure monitor has a voice broadcast, which means users can receive readings without viewing the display. It also has a built-in musical speaker whose soothing sounds are said to contribute to more comfortable readings.
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