If you do decide to measure your blood pressure at home, you will need to get a home blood pressure monitor. There is a wide range of home blood pressure monitors available, but it is important to be sure that the blood pressure monitor you choose is accurate and the right one for you.
Automatic blood pressure monitors recommended by the USA, Canada and the UK
There are many different kinds of home blood pressure monitor, but it is easiest to use a monitor that is fully automatic (digital). Choose one that measures your blood pressure at your upper arm, rather than at your wrist or finger. Upper-arm blood pressure monitors usually give the most accurate and consistent results. The American Heart Association and Blood Pressure UK both recommend an automatic, cuff-style, bicep (upper-arm) monitor. Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because they yield less reliable readings. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you choose a monitor.
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada also suggests that the unit be automatic (instead of manual) and have been tested to meet the validation requirements of either the British Hypertension Society (BHS) or the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI). Check out the devices endorsed by Hypertension Canada.
Make sure your monitor is accurate
Make sure that the home blood pressure monitor you choose has been listed as ‘clinically validated’ for accuracy by the British Hypertension Society. This means that the digital monitor has gone through a series of tests to make sure it gives results that you and your doctor can trust.
An upper-arm blood pressure monitor will come with a cuff that you need to wrap around your arm. If you use a cuff that is the wrong size for you, your blood pressure reading will not be correct. Measure around your upper arm at the midpoint between your shoulder and elbow, and choose your cuff size from the chart below.
Make sure you have the right cuff size
An upper-arm blood pressure monitor will come with a cuff that you need to wrap around your arm. If you use a cuff that is the wrong size for you, your blood pressure reading will not be correct. Measure around your upper arm at the midpoint between your shoulder and elbow, and choose your cuff size from the chart below. Match your measurement with measurements provided on the monitor’s package or instruction manual.
Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor cuff sizes
Measurement (cm) Measurement (inches) Cuff Size
18-22 cm 7.1-8.7” Small
22-32 cm 8.8-12.8” Medium
32-45 cm 12.8-18″ Large
Choose a digital monitor to suit your budget.
Blood pressure monitors can vary in price. This usually depends on the number of extra features that the digital monitor has, like a built-in memory for example.
All you need to measure your blood pressure correctly is a clinically validated monitor, and a pen and paper to record your readings. Extra features can be helpful but they are not necessary. Choose a home blood pressure monitor that you can afford.
Keep your home blood pressure monitor calibrated.
Because your blood pressure monitor works automatically, it will need to be re-calibrated at least once every two years to be sure it is giving you accurate results. To have your automatic home monitor re-calibrated, you will need to send it back to the manufacturer. There will probably be a fee for this service.
Choose a validated monitor.
Make sure the monitor has been tested, validated and approved by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, the British Hypertension Society and the International Protocol for the Validation of Automated BP Measuring Devices. A list of validated monitors is available on the Dabl Educational Trust website.
Ensure the monitor is suitable for your special needs.
When selecting a blood pressure monitor for the elderly, pregnant women or children, make sure it is validated for these conditions.
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