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What you Need to Know about Blood Pressure Monitors

Blood pressure monitors for home can be bought without a prescription. However, it's good practice to get to know what the product can do for you, especially when it's meant to gauge the state of your health. Best Buy sells a variety of blood pressure monitors from brands like iHealth, Homedics and BIOS Diagnostics. Take a quick look at some frequently asked questions and basic purchasing tips.

Blood Pressure Monitor FAQs

At-home blood pressure monitors are generally used by seniors, people diagnosed with hypertension or diabetes, or those who need the flexibility to take measurements at various times throughout the day. Need more info? Read on.

1. Why should I buy a blood pressure monitor for home?

If you've ever had your blood pressure taken at a hospital or doctor's office, you may have noticed your heart rate spiking up from nerves or anxiety. Blood pressure monitors can compensate for biased readings through regular monitoring at your convenience. They can spot any unusual readings, and take into account other factors that affect blood pressure, such as your level of physical activity or stress. Most importantly, the recorded information can provide your health care practitioner a better understanding of your risks, how well you're responding to medication, or the effects of lifestyle changes.

2. How accurate are these monitors?

Various research studies have purported the accuracy of home monitors, with the stipulation that you buy a model that's been clinically validated and correctly calibrated. The upper-arm versions tend to be the most accurate and consistent. Hypertension Canada provides a list of recommended devices; but if in doubt, ask your doctor, the pharmacist, or retail staff to double-check whether the model you're buying is the right fit, and takes proper readings.

3. What are the types of blood pressure monitors?

The most common type, often seen in drug stores and supermarkets, is the automatic upper-arm monitor, which inflates and deflates the cuff around your upper arm automatically to detect the blood pulsing in your artery. A semi-automatic version requires you to inflate the cuff yourself, but displays an automatic reading. The manual kind, on the other hand, is similar to what your doctor uses, with you doing the work of inflating the cuff by squeezing a bulb, and using a microphone or stethoscope to measure the blood pressure. There are also blood pressure monitors that go around your wrist or finger. The wrist type is more compact, and offers a convenient option for travel.

4. Are there are any special features I should know about?

A handy feature is built-in memory so you have a record of previous readings for your doctor to peruse. Some blood pressure cuffs have an integrated irregular-heartbeat detector, which spots and compensates for irregularities for a more consistent reading. Smartphone users will appreciate models with wearable tech functionality, allowing you to send data directly to your Bluetooth-enabled device, and even share info to your health care practitioner via an app.

5. How do I choose a blood pressure monitor?

As mentioned above, choose a monitor that's been tested and approved by a certified association, like Hypertension Canada, as well as properly calibrated. Calibration can mean getting your physician or pharmacist to double-check the device when you first purchase it. When buying an automatic, cuff-style monitor that goes around your bicep, make sure the cuff fits right. An improperly sized one can skew your numbers.