The 10 Best Blood Pressure Monitors
This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in March of 2015. We've taken the pulse of the best blood pressure monitors on the market to help you keep a close watch on your day-to-day health. Our selection of devices includes those designed for both daily and casual use, upper arm and wrist cuffs, and Bluetooth-capable options. Just remember to follow the directions, or no matter how great the model, you could get inaccurate results. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best blood pressure monitor on Amazon.
March 26, 2019:
Knowing and keeping your blood pressure under control is very important to your overall health, which is why it can be a good idea to keep one of these blood pressure monitors on hand for daily or periodic use. With the advance in digital technology, there really isn't any reason someone needs to keep an old analog model on hand, plus they are almost impossible to use for self-testing, so we haven't included any on our list. You will still find a variety of different styles to suit every need. If you are mobility-impaired or simply prefer not to use the standard upper-arm model, you'll appreciate the Omron 7 Series, which is designed to go around your wrist. If you want something slim and compact, without any excess wires, take a look at the Omron Evolv and QardioArm A100, which both have the display attached directly to the cuff. If you want to be able to track trends and share data with family members of perhaps a doctor, the Omron 10 Series, Omron Evolv, and QardioArm A100 all offer the ability to do so by pairing them with a mobile device via Bluetooth, though we must warn you that some people find the added functionality somewhat difficult to use. Many of the other options on our list also store 100 or more readings, but won't create a trend graph like the models that pair with apps do. Visually-impaired people will be best served by the Paramed Upper Arm, since it can be set to relay readings audibly.
Natural And Unnatural Responses
You've likely experienced these things when you go to the doctor's office.
These blood pressure monitors eliminate the nurse and the big wall-thermometer, and instead use the air inside the arm band to measure vibrations in your arterial walls.
You get cut off in traffic. Your boss dumps a new, impossible deadline on your desk. Your spouse utters the words "second honeymoon." Your daughter claims she met the man of her dreams at the concert she went to last night. All of these things will undoubtedly cause a spike in your blood pressure.
Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with that; increased blood pressure in times of stress is actually normal. Your body's fight or flight response engages in times of stress, flooding your blood with adrenaline and cortisol. Those hormones increase your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels, which, in turn, turns up your blood pressure. The effect only lasts as long as you're exposed to a stressor stimulus, after which your body begins to regain homeostasis.
This kind of spike in blood pressure is circumstantial, to be sure, and it's very much on the safe side, provided you aren't suffering from other heart conditions at the time that an increase in stress could exacerbate. You could detect some such heart conditions–and catch them early enough to seek effective treatment–by utilizing a sphygmomanometer, more commonly called a blood pressure monitor.
You've likely experienced these things when you go to the doctor's office. You wait around one of his rooms while he's off eating lunch or finishing up a round of golf. At some point in your waiting, a nurse comes in and takes your blood pressure. She straps a Velcro arm band around your upper arm, squeezes a little rubber ball that causes the arm band to tighten, places a stethoscope against the inside of your elbow, and releases a valve on the armband that loosens it back up, all while staring at what looks like a big thermometer on the wall.
These blood pressure monitors eliminate the nurse and the big wall-thermometer, and instead use the air inside the arm band to measure vibrations in your arterial walls. Those vibrations activate a transducer that converts them to electrical signals measured by your monitor.
Despite the fact that these monitors, known as oscillatory blood pressure monitors, don't use mercury pressure as a measuring tool, their readouts still adhere to the traditional mm Hg numbers by which medical associations around the world talk about blood pressure.
Pressure By The Numbers
Understanding the readout of your blood pressure monitor is vital to understanding the state and health of your heart. As mentioned above, blood pressure monitors measure blood pressure in millimeters of mercury, both at systolic and diastolic points in your heartbeat.
The systolic measurement is the beat during which your heart pumps blood out through your arteries, and it's the top number in the readout.
The systolic measurement is the beat during which your heart pumps blood out through your arteries, and it's the top number in the readout. The diastolic measurement is an evaluation of the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats, and it's the bottom number in the readout. When you hear a nurse or doctor say, "120 over 80," that means 120mm Hg systolic pressure and 80mm Hg diastolic pressure.
It's important to measure these levels at a resting state, which might be why those nurses and doctors make you wait so long in the office; they let you rest for a while before taking any measurements.
Anything less than 120 over less than 80 is a good thing. That's considered normal (although it can get too low, as well). Once you get above that, you enter prehypertension pressures, which may not require medication, just a few lifestyle changes like an increase in exercise or an improvement in your diet. Anything above 140 over 90 and you've got yourself a case of hypertension. Your doctor will likely prescribe you something to lower your pressure while you make additional lifestyle adjustments.
The monitors on our list all give you accurate measurements, though some have bigger, better displays than others, and some can even send your readouts straight to your smartphone. Some can also wrap around your writs instead of your upper arm, as well, should you desire discretion in the event you need to keep the monitor on for a few days or more worth of measurements.
Pressure From Horse To Man
While the circulatory system has been the subject of medical curiosity for millennia, it was only in the last few hundred years that medical scientists began the study and understanding of blood pressure as it relates to human health.
Mercury is, after all, rather unsafe, and its mining practices are often unethical and dangerous.
The first measurement of an animal's blood pressure involved a horse rather than a man. Reverend Stephen Hales, in 1733, stuck a glass tube perpendicularly into a horse's artery and measured the height of the blood that rose in it with each pump.
Almost 150 years later, Samuel Siegfried Karl Ritter von Basch (a.k.a. the man whose name alone will cause a spike in blood pressure), invented the first sphygmomanometer.
These early blood pressure monitors utilized actual mercury for their measurements, a practice which has largely fallen out of favor today for environmental concerns. Mercury is, after all, rather unsafe, and its mining practices are often unethical and dangerous.
For those reasons, manufacturers turned to digital means of measurement, utilizing pressure sensitivity not too dissimilar to the operations of a microphone to listen in on the pressure pumping through your blood vessels.
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