The Different Types Of Blood Pressure Monitors Explained – What’s Best For You?
The blood pressure monitor, and how to accurately measure and read blood pressure, is a topic that has fascinated the medical world for centuries and a whole variety of devices were invented and used in the quest to understand more about the heart and blood flow throughout the body.
Technological advances made in recent times have been extremely complex and have meant we now have a whole host of different monitors to choose from.
There is an ever-growing number of home monitoring kits available to purchase so let’s take a look at what is out on the market today.
There are numerous options available to suit your needs whether you prefer a conventional upper arm cuff monitor or a more discreet finger or wrist blood pressure monitor.
We will also get to the latest advances in blood pressure readings which can be carried out wirelessly using Bluetooth.
Cuff By Another Name!
Before we get started, it is important to know that many sales staff and medical staff use the term blood pressure monitor interchangeably with a cuff; this is because it is rare you would buy a cuff without purchasing a monitor to go with it.
The only institutions that would really purchase cuffs independently or disposable blood pressure cuffs are hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices. So don’t be confused if you see either term mentioned when looking for what you need.
Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor – Most Recommended
The most common type of home BP monitor, and what we and the American Heart Association recommend for the most consistency and accuracy, is an upper arm blood pressure monitor.
These have an inflatable cuff which straps around your upper arm and reads your blood pressure from your brachial artery, which is the most accurate method of blood pressure measurement (and why doctors do it this way).
If you plan on sharing your device with multiple users, make sure to have a cuff (or multiple cuffs) to fit each person. This is especially important if you have large arms which do not fit in the standard cuff provided with your monitor.
Using a poor-fitting cuff not only skews your reading but can be painful as well.
The Omron BP785 10 Series is a solid choice for those looking for an upper arm monitor.
Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor – Great For Travelers!
As the name indicates, wrist blood pressure monitors attach to and read blood pressure from your wrist. There is a general consensus in the medical field that a wrist blood pressure monitor can be accurate, but only if used exactly as directed in the user’s manual.
They are more comfortable to wear but are extremely sensitive to your body position and how securely the device is attached to your wrist.
For an accurate reading, your arm and wrist must be at heart level and in many instances the blood pressure measurements taken from the wrist are usually higher than, and not always as accurate as, those taken from your upper arm.
The reason for this is that the arteries in your wrist are not as deep under your skin and are narrower than those of your forearm.
This is why health organizations generally recommend a monitor which will measure blood pressure in the upper arm. The exception to this rule is for those people who have very large arms or find blood pressure measurements taken from the upper arm to be cumbersome or painful. In both of these cases, measurements from the wrist may be acceptable.
Note for frequent travelers: wrist monitors are less bulky and more travel-friendly than the more conventional upper arm blood pressure monitors and can give you a quick, fairly accurate reading without using up valuable storage space in your suitcase! We highly recommend the Omron BP652 7 Series for travelers, which is the #1 Best Seller on Amazon.
Although wrist blood pressure monitors can be a useful tool for your health, an upper arm blood pressure monitor is generally easier to use and is also easier to check for accuracy.
Blood Pressure Cuff Size – Make Sure It Fits!
While most people will have no problem with cuff size, it is important that if you have particularly large wrists and arms to make sure you select the correct size cuff.
You will find that wrist monitors fit wrists up to 10 inches in circumference while upper arm monitoring machines have cuffs that will generally accommodate an arm up to 18 inches in circumference.
If your arm is larger than this, then you must choose a machine that states it offers a large cuff. Such cuffs fit arms up to 24 inches in circumference.
Finger Blood Pressure Monitor
This type of monitor is a small, noninvasive electronic device and is extremely useful for those who need to monitor their blood pressure at home on a very regular basis. One good example is for pregnant women.
They can quickly use the device on a daily basis to keep a close check on their BP levels. This allows them to quickly detect if they are suffering from any hypertension issues brought on by their pregnancy.
The next type of blood pressure monitor we will look at is ideal for those on the go. These monitors are a more recent introduction to the market.
They show how health companies are becoming more innovative while expanding the scope and reach of such machines.
A Slightly Different Take on Monitoring
Before we finish off with the latest in blood pressure monitoring, let us take a look at the heart rate blood pressure monitor. This type of monitor does not just monitor your blood pressure as the devices we have discussed, but is also targeted at your heart rate.
Many of these come as a watch you can wear because they are for those who wish to get the most out of their workout and training sessions. By using the accurate data given it will help you to get into which ever cardiovascular ‘zone’ you are aiming for.
You can choose between non-continuous and continuous models which means you either get your readings on demand or they constantly show. These devices can also show you such things as the amount of calories you have burned.
The sensor technology it employs works off just a couple of fingers and it is an excellent tool for a wide variety of exercising.
Those into cardio training are the ones it tends to be most popular with, but everyone from beginners on low-intensity level training right through to those who want to build speed and power through anaerobic exercises can also benefit from one of these multi-tasking monitors.
Wireless Blood Pressure Monitoring Using Bluetooth
We will finish off with the latest in technology for blood pressure monitoring. With the amount of mobile technology used nowadays it had to happen!
This blood pressure device works via Bluetooth technology. You slip the monitor on your arm and use an application that is loaded onto your Apple or Android smartphone or tablet device for it to start taking a reading.
It will give you systolic, diastolic, and pulse rate readings directly onto your chosen compatible device for you to check and store. The other advantage is that a record of your reading is kept on a secure and backed up database. This means you can access the information from any computer or device with internet access.
These type of monitors have been introduced to the market in recent years, and the signs are that this type of technology and blood pressure monitor will continue to flourish. As it does, this will make your blood pressure history something easily accessible in either routine check-ups or emergency situations.
The most popular Bluetooth compatible monitors are the Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor (which is an upper arm monitor) and the iHealth Wireless Blood Pressure Wrist Monitor.
Difference in Readings – Home Monitors vs Doctor’s Office
It is quite common to find that the readings you take at home on any type of monitor will be different from the reading at your doctor’s office.
Regardless of the type of monitor you are using, you should take it along with you to your next appointment or at least once a year to check accuracy with the monitor utilized by your doctor.
This will allow the doctor to check your blood pressure with their standard monitor as well as your personal monitor on the same arm.
They will ensure that you are in the correct position when taking your reading and then explain any differences in the readings.
Make Sure Your Monitor Is Approved
We only write reviews on and recommend monitors that have been approved by the dabl Education Trust, which is a non-profit educational venture that lists and sites publications and studies validating each monitor on the market.
If you are looking at a blood pressure monitoring device that does not have a Recommended rating according to this table by the dabl Education Trust, you will want to steer clear of it and choose a validated monitor instead. See our Reviews page for a list of approved devices.