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Friday August 19, 2022

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

How to Choose a Blood Pressure Monitor

I just found out I have stage 1 hypertension and my doctor recommended I get a home blood pressure monitor to keep an eye on it. Can you offer me any tips on choosing a good one?

Monitoring your blood pressure at home is a smart idea! Everyone with elevated or high blood pressure (stage 1 and higher) should consider getting a home blood pressure monitor. Home monitoring can help you keep tabs on your blood pressure in a comfortable setting. Plus, if you are taking medication, it will help ensure it is working and alert you to a health problem if one arises. Here are some tips to help you choose a good monitor.

Types of Monitors

The two most popular types of home blood pressure monitors are automatic arm monitors and automatic wrist monitors that are electric and/or battery powered.

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. The monitor gives 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 smaller in weight and size. This makes them more portable and more comfortable to use than the arm monitors, but they tend to be a little less accurate. To help choose the best monitor for you, here are several things to consider:

Make sure it fits: Be sure the cuff fits the circumference of your upper arm or wrist. Using a cuff that is the wrong size can result in an inaccurate reading. Most arm models have two sizes or an adjustable cuff that fits most people. Wrist models also fit most people.

Choose one that is easy to use: Be sure the display on the monitor is easy to read and the buttons are large. The directions for applying the cuff and operating the monitor should be clear.

Consider what extra features you want: Many automatic 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 their readings; and downloadable memory that allows you to transmit your data to your computer or smartphone.

Where to Buy

You can find blood pressure monitors at pharmacies, medical supply stores or online. You do not need a prescription to buy one. Prices typically range between $40 and $100.

In most cases, original Medicare will not cover a home blood pressure monitor. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan or a private health insurance policy, it may provide coverage.

After you buy a monitor, it is a good idea to read the instruction manual before use. Take it to your doctor's office so they can check its accuracy and teach you the proper techniques of how and when to use it. You may also find helpful resources using your favorite online search engine.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published August 20, 2021
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