Using Home Blood Pressure Monitors

Blood Pressure Monitors

Before we look at how to use a home blood pressure digital monitor, and which ones are the best, let's first consider what the blood pressure readings will mean. These figures are taken from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Systolic Pressure
Diastolic Pressure
< 120
< 80
120 – 139
80 – 89
Stage 1
140 – 159
90 – 99
Stage 2
> 160
> 100

Digital Home Blood Pressure Monitors v Doctor's sphygmomanometer

When you get your blood pressure measured at the doctor's office, he/she will place a cuff around your upper arm, level with your heart.

The cuff is inflated, and then, while the doctor listens on his/her stethoscope placed on your arm just below the cuff, the cuff is slowly deflated. the doctor is listening out for the first signs of a “tapping sound” which signals the point when the cuffs pressure is just less than the pressure of your blood, and blood flows intermittently past the cuff during heart beat. At this point, the doctor notes the pressure on the sphygmomanometer. This is your systolic blood pressure.

The cuff continues to be deflated until the “tapping” sound completely disappears. This is the point where full blood flow has been restored, and represents your diastolic blood pressure.

Measurements taken by your doctor are the most accurate, and most reliable. However, due to a phenomenon called “White Coat Syndrome”, some patients find their blood pressure raised by the mere act of visiting the doctor. I suffer from this, and find that my blood pressure is significantly lower (even normal) at home, yet at the doctor's office, it is always high. Because of White Coat Syndrome, more and more doctors are recommending digital home blood pressure monitors for their patients.

If decide to buy a home monitor, you MUST get it checked at your doctor's office for accuracy. These meters can be extremely accurate, but you need to check that yours is calibrated properly. All you need to do is to go and get the doctor to check your blood pressure, wait 2 minutes, and then take your blood pressure using your digital meter. The two readings should be very similar (they wont be 100% the same as blood pressure varies). Once accuracy is confirmed, you can confidently take your blood pressure at home.

Types of personal blood pressure monitors

I have seen and used two types of home monitors. One has a cuff that goes around your wrist, while the other has a cuff that goes around your upper arm (at the level of your heart). While I have not done extensive testing, I did find the wrist cuff more temperamental and inaccurate. My own recommendation is that you buy a blood pressure monitor with the arm cuff. They are both similarly priced and can be bought for between $50 – $100.

Precautions when taking your own blood pressure

It is important that your are completely relaxed when you measure your blood pressure. There are also a few other guidelines that you should stick to before taking your reading:

  1. Empty your bladder before sitting down to take a reading.
  2. Don't drink coffee for at least an hour before measuring your blood pressure.
  3. Don't smoke for at least 1 hour before.
  4. Sit for five minutes with your back supported and your feet flat on the ground before taking your blood pressure. Keep your arm supported on a table at heart height.
  5. Do not wear tight fitting clothes on your arm. When you fit the cuff, your rolled up sleeve should not be constricting your arm at all. If in doubt, take off your top.
  6. Take two readings two minutes apart, and find the average.

Where to Buy Blood Pressure monitors

With these personal monitors being relatively cheap and yet highly accurate, we recommend you buy one to use at home. This will prevent “White Coat Syndrome” where your blood pressure is elevated just because you visit the doctors. However, when you get your, you must visit your doctor to check its accuracy.  I recommend a cuff blood pressure monitor like this Omron:

omron blood pressure monitor cuff

Omron Cuff Blood Pressure Monitor on Amazon

About Andy

Andy writes for a number of health related sites but has always been fascinated by alternative medicine and home remedies. His deep interests in nature and the body's innate ability to heal itself (given the right condition) have lead him to a pivotal time in his life - and so, Holistic Home Fitness was born. While it's relatively new at the moment, Andy wants to build this site into a huge reference site for a more holistic approach to health and fitness.