|Choosing a Blood Pressure Monitor|
Safe Home Products sells electronic, oscillometric and
traditional units by Forecare, Lumiscope, and/or Omron which measure fom the arm,
wrist, or finger. All blood pressure monitors must pass Federal accuracy standards.
For wrist and arm units, this means the pressure under optimal conditions is within
2% accuracy and the pulse within 5% of the reading.
Consult your health professional about physical problems that rule out certain types
of units. For example, diabetics and those with poor circulation in their hands
get inaccurate readings from finger blood pressure monitors.
Each manufacturer has many units with various options. Some units store only the
last measurements while others store multiple readings. Some units accommodate large
and/or small cuffs as well as "normal" sized cuffs. Others provide paper print-outs
or can interface with a computer. Units are semi-automatic, manually inflated, or
automatic using fuzzy logic inflation and/or deflation. Brite Sensor Technology,
Intellisense, and Accu-Read are three trademarked terms for fuzzy logic technology.
Safe Home Products suggests these steps to select a unit:
- Measure the circumference of arm or wrist with a flexible tailor's tape
to determine which units will fit. Or cut a strip of paper wrap around your arm
or wrist, mark where the paper meets and measure it. Please don't use a metal tape
measure as it won't be accurate! If the arm is significantly smaller where
the lower part of the cuff will be placed, choose a tapered arm cuff, a wrist model,
or a finger tip model.
- Rule out units when measurements are at the upper or lower size limits of the supplied
cuff (except for models that accommodate smaller/larger cuffs). Improper cuff fit
means inaccurate readings.
- Decide if a simultaneous blood pressure and pulse display is necessary. Most units
display blood pressure readings alternately with pulse.
- Decide if a standard or an oversized number read-out is needed.
- Is the unit for home, travel, or both? Some battery powered units can use an AC
optional adapter. Most people rarely use AC adapters. Other units are more compact,
lightweight, and are battery powered.
- Decide if a basic or more complex unit is needed. Basic units retain the last blood
pressure reading, use manual, semi-automatic, or automatic inflation. Complex units
retain multiple readings sometimes for two or more people. Omron now has a unit
that interfaces with a PC.
- Large and small arm cuffs are available for some units. "Large" arms typically are
above 12.6" in circumference. Omron and Forecare have large cuffs that fit up to
17" circumference arms. Omron and Lumiscope both have small cuffs for children or
smaller adults. Only the Lumiscope Model 1060 is recommended for children as the
inflation is manual.
- Ease of application of the unit. Those with arthritis may struggle with the D ring
that tightens many arm cuffs. Finger units require adjustments. Most wrist units
apply with one hand.
- Health issues affect accuracy of readings on some wrist and finger units. Most wrist
units advise the user to raise the wrist to the heart level by propping the arm
on a stable surface. Some wrist units instruct the arm be held firmly against the
heart. Severe hand or arm tremors cause inaccuracy. Circulatory problems create
cold hands and inaccurate finger unit readings.
- Length of Warranty; Need for Recalibration. Warranties vary from one to five years.
Defects usually appear immediately or within a month. Units generally work accurately
for years beyond the warranty. All units need to be cross-checked for accuracy initially
and every two years. Recalibration by the manufacturer is sometimes needed.
Hints for Proper Blood Pressure Monitoring:
Remember blood pressure readings vary according to many factors including eating,
stress, exercise, room temperature, and smoking. There can be a difference of 4
to 5 points (average) between any types of unit. If you normally have readings indicating
high blood pressure, any units will read above average readings within the range
that is "normal" for you.
- Perform measurement in a quiet place and in a relaxed posture. Rest 15 minutes before
taking a reading.
- Avoid measurement during stressful situations.
- Hold cuff device at heart level for most accurate readings.
- For wrist units: apply the cuff to the inside of your left wrist with the
digital display in easy view. Place your elbow on a table or other object. Use the
storage case to position the arm so that the pressure cuff is at the same height
as the heart. Open your hand and fingers slightly and relax with your palm facing
- For arm units: attach the arm cuff on the proper position of the arm as high
as the level of the heart. Do not wind the arm cuff over jacket or sweater sleeve.
Do not roll up shirt sleeve because compressing the upper arm affects the measurement
- For finger units:make certain your hands are warm. If your circulation is
poor or your hands are cold, readings will not be accurate.
- Blood pressure readings vary in relation to the level of the cuff from the heart.
A four inch difference results in an 8mmHg measurement error.
Note: Your heart is located slightly below your armpit.
- Do not vibrate the unit during measurement.
- Do not talk or move during the reading.
- To repeat a measurement, loosen or remove cuff and wait 5 to 10 minutes to allow
blood to recirculate.
- For consistent readings, try to take your blood pressure at the same time each day.
Log the readings for review by your physician.
- Blood pressure is affected by smoking, alcohol consumption, medication, and physical
activity. Allow at least 30 minutes after these events before taking a reading.
- In rare situations, an extremely weak pulse or irregular pulse can cause errors
which prevent proper measurement. If you notice these abnormal variations, consult
- It is recommended that all home blood pressure monitors be checked initially
and at least every two years against readings by trained observers using the cuff/stethoscope
Click below to learn about the blood pressure monitors available from: