Hypertension (high blood pressure) is known as the silent killer. Your body is normally able to compensate for the increased pressure, and you will typically feel completely fine. However, increased stress factors can cause a spike in pressure that your body can no longer compensate for which can lead to health complications like heart attack or stroke. Typically, the most accurate monitors will be the standard arm monitors. However, these products are more difficult to use alone compared to the wrist monitor. Products requiring a stethoscope is not recommended for home use due to the difficulties and skills required to accurately use one. The ultimate choice of arm or wrist monitor will be based on what best suits your needs.
There are a few key points to keep in mind for accurate blood pressure readings:
1. Consistency: It is ideal to keep a log of your blood pressure and to measure them at around the same time of the day. Typically, the measurements should be performed in the same location, with the same chair, and keeping the arm at the same height (same level as the heart).
2. Relax: The measurements should be performed in a relaxed state. This means that exercise, caffeine products, and smoking should be avoided for at least 30 minutes prior to measuring your blood pressure.
3. Cuff size: Make sure the blood pressure monitor being used is the right size. Double check the recommendations from the manufacturer because this can have an impact on your readings.
Arm-based blood pressure monitors are the standard of care to measure blood pressure. These are usually seen in the doctor’s office and are typically more accurate and the recommended form. In addition, the cuff naturally rests at the same height as the heart, helping with one aspect of consistency. However, they can be more difficult to use alone and may require an additional person to help set up.
The wrist-based blood pressure monitors are still typically less accurate compared to the arm-based monitors. Therefore, the results will likely be different compared to your results from the doctor’s office. However, the wrist-based monitors may be a good fit for you because of their ease of use. It is easy to keep the monitor at heart level by just bending the elbow. The idea is to aim for consistency and look for any deviations from your normal readings. As always, documenting the results will help give you an additional tool to better improve your health and keep you healthy.