- 3 Best BP Monitors
- Choosing a BP Monitor
- How to Measure BP at Home
- How Long to Wait After a Workout
- Effects of Exercise
- Warning Signs
Your vitals, such as your temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure (BP), are important determinants of your health. Measuring your BP is especially important if you are on medications for hypertension or if you have an increased risk of heart disease.
Although getting your blood pressure measured by a professional through a manual device (sphygmomanometer) is going to give you the most accurate results, going to the doctor’s office for daily readings isn’t always convenient or feasible.
Based on user ratings across several platforms, here are the top three at-home blood pressure monitors for 2021 that are easy to use and give accurate readings when operated properly.
3 best home blood pressure monitors
1. Omron Platinum BP5450
- Type: Wireless upper arm BP monitor
- Validated by the American Heart Association for clinical accuracy
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Horizontally designed, backlit dual-display monitor
- Good storage capacity (stores up to 200 readings)
- Can store readings separately for 2 users (100 readings each)
- TruRead technology (allows you to automatically take 3 consecutive readings at intervals you can customize and then displays the average)
- High morning average indicator (calculates daily morning average BP and gives an alert with a “HIGH” symbol on the display if morning weekly average systolic BP measures 130 mmHg or above and/or your diastolic BP is 80 mmHg or above)
- Wide-range D-ring cuff that fits arms 9 to 17 inches in circumference
2. Care Touch Fully Automatic Wrist Blood Pressure Cuff Monitor, Platinum Series
- Type: Wrist BP monitor
- Can measure BP and heartbeat rate with wrist circumference ranging from 5.5 to 8.5 inches
- Can detect an irregular heartbeat
- Turns off automatically when no activity is detected
- Can store up to 60 readings
- Large liquid crystal display (LCD)
- Gives BP reading in 60 seconds
Although the American Heart Association does not recommend using wrist or finger BP monitors, these gadgets may be used if you can't have your BP measured at the upper arm, whether because your arm is too large or you find arm cuffs painful.
Readings from a wrist BP monitor may be higher since the wrist arteries are narrower and not as deep as those of the upper arm.
3. Omron evolve
- Type: wireless upper arm BP monitor
- Validated by the American Heart Association for clinical accuracy
- Bluetooth enabled
- Suitable for multiple users
- Can store unlimited readings when used with the app
- Suitable for larger arms since the cuff extends from circumferences of 9-17 inches
How to choose a blood pressure monitor for home use
To choose a reliable blood pressure (BP) monitor, you should:
- Ask your doctor for their recommendations.
- Choose an AHA-validated monitor (the list can be viewed on validatebp.org).
- Get an upper arm BP monitor unless you have a problem fitting the cuff around your arm, in which case you can use a wrist BP monitor.
- Select the right cuff size. According to the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association, adult cuff sizes are categorized as:
- Adult small: Arm circumference of 22 to 26 centimeters (about 8.5 to 10 inches).
- Adult average: Arm circumference of 27 to 34 centimeters (about 10.5 to 13 inches).
- Adult large: Arm circumference of 35 to 44 centimeters (about 13.5 to 17 inches).
- Get your BP monitor regularly serviced and calibrated for accurate readings.
How to measure your blood pressure at home
To make sure that you are using your BP monitor correctly, practice using it with your medical provider during a doctor’s appointment. You can compare the readings from your BP monitor with theirs and talk about any accuracy issues your monitor may have.
- Measure your BP after resting for at least 5 minutes.
- Sit without crossing your legs, with your back supported and feet on the floor.
- Keep your forearm supported on a table or cushion with your upper arm at heart level.
- Keep your feet on the floor with your back supported. Do not sit cross-legged.
- Wrist BP monitors are particularly sensitive to body position so make sure that you keep your arm and wrist at heart level.
- Place the cuff over your upper arm (around the wrist in case of wrist BP monitors) snuggly. Avoid wrapping the cuff over your clothes.
- Switch on the BP monitor and press the start button to take the reading.
- When the cuff inflates and deflates to show the reading:
- Take at least 2 readings about a minute apart in the morning before taking any medication and in the evening before dinner or as advised by your doctor.
- Measure your blood pressure in both arms the first time you use the monitor, then use the arm with the highest reading to take future readings.
- Always note down readings along with the time so that you know your average readings and when spikes are highest.
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How long should you wait to take your blood pressure after working out?
During a workout, your heart needs more oxygen than when at rest, causing you to breathe more rapidly. This causes your heart to pump more blood. Generally, systolic blood pressure elevates to about 160-200 mmHg during exercise, without much change in diastolic blood pressure.
Other factors that affect your blood pressure reading after a workout include the following:
- Caffeine intake
- Conditions such as hypertension and thyroid disorders
- Medications such as beta-blockers
Does exercise affect your blood pressure in the long term?
Regular exercise is the best way to help control high blood pressure in the long term. Moderate physical activities that may increase your heart and breathing rates include the following:
- Active sports, such as basketball or tennis
- Climbing stairs
- Household chores, such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, gardening, or scrubbing the floor
The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise a week.
If you have a sedentary lifestyle, aim for at least 15 minutes a day of low-intensity physical exercises, such as jogging, going for a walk, or doing jumping jacks.
How does regular exercise lower your blood pressure?
When your heart is in good shape, it can pump blood without effort, reducing tension in your arteries and ultimately lowering your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, regular exercise can lower blood pressure by an average of 4-9 mmHg.
Here is why daily exercise is good for your blood pressure:
- Weight control: Regular exercise keeps your weight in check. Even a 10% reduction in weight can lower blood pressure in the long run.
- Stress reduction: Your body releases endorphins when you exercise. These feel-good chemicals reduce stress and blood pressure by reducing cortisol levels in the body.
- Blood flow: Nitric oxide released by the endothelial cells during physical activity is a vasodilator, meaning it widens the blood vessel circumference. This improves blood flow to organs (including the heart), as well as overall tissue perfusion.
What are warning signs to stop a workout?
If your systolic blood pressure goes above 200 mmHg during a workout, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Chest, neck, jaw, or arm pain or tightness
- Dizziness or faintness
- Severe shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
You should stop exercising if you notice these warning signs, as they can lead to serious heart problems.
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Harvard Health Publishing. "Ask the doctor: Are my blood pressure and heart rate changing normally during exercise?" <https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/are-my-blood-pressure-and-heart-rate-changing-normally-during-exercise>.
Tsukiyama Y, Ito T, Nagaoka K, Eguchi E, Ogino K. "Effects of exercise training on nitric oxide, blood pressure and antioxidant enzymes." J Clin Biochem Nutr 60.3 (2017): 180-186. doi:10.3164/jcbn.16-108
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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
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The American Academy of Cardiology defines high blood pressure slightly differently. The AAC considers 130/80 mm Hg. or greater (either number) stage 1 hypertension. Stage 2 hypertension is considered 140/90 mm Hg. or greater.
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REFERENCE: CDC. High Blood Pressure. Updated: Nov 13, 2017.
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