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How to choose the best blood pressure monitor?

Southeastern Medical Supply has excerpted an excellent article, written by Cindy Maley, Product Manager, for American Diagnostics Corporation, which was posted on the ADC website. It is listed below and we feel that it helps provide great guidance on what to look for in your next home BP monitor.

First and foremost, look at the company behind the brand. Make sure the model you choose is from a manufacturer with a strong track record in this industry.

Look for independent certification from, or compliance with, a respected agency,

Look for a unit that includes irregular heartbeat detection. This feature will ensure greater accuracy on patients with an irregular heartbeat � a condition that often goes undetected, but can confuse the software of BP monitors without this capability.

Unless portability is a major concern, choose a unit that measures at the upper arm. In theory upper arm and wrist models are of comparable accuracy, but in practice you�re likely to experience greater consistency in readings obtained on an upper arm unit. Wrist models are recommended for those with arms too large to fit properly in an upper arm cuff, or for people who travel regularly and need portability.

If you can afford it, choose a fully automatic unit (with automatic inflation). The more you leave to the instrument itself, the more consistent the measurement results will likely be.

If you can afford it, choose a unit that takes up to three successive measurements and averages the readings. This tends to smooth the measurement results and makes the readings more meaningful. It also reduces the occasional inconsistencies that often lead to confusion and post purchase disappointment.

If you can afford it, choose a unit that links to PC software to make tracking and trending easier to observe. It is universally agreed that individual readings are of less value than repeated measurements taken over time and the easiest way to track and observe is with the help of specialized software. Some models do this through a smart phone app � others link to a traditional PC. Others still, are compatible with Microsoft� HealthVault�, allowing you to manage your BP records online. It doesn�t really matter which technology is used, just that tracking be available.

Make sure the unit is backed by a reasonable warranty. We suggest at least 2 years. Beyond 5 is of limited value as emerging new technologies will likely make your purchase obsolete long before it fails.

There are a lot of other features available all of which can be helpful, but we think are less essential.

These include:

Extensive memories with date and time stamps: nice to have, but in all likelihood, you will want to manually log the readings and bring the record to your caregiver for review. And if your unit has computerized tracking (PC link or smart phone app), you really don�t need all those memories. If you do select one with memories, make sure they have a date/time stamp. Memories without a date/time stamp are of limited value.

A/C adapter: a nice feature to have if you plan to use the device regularly and keep the instrument plugged in and on your desktop. If you plan to put it in a drawer after each reading, it�s of little value.

Traffic Light System: Evaluates the hypertension risk in accordance with WHO standards. Nice, but not absolutely necessary. Better left to your healthcare provider to decide on the meaning of your readings and the course of treatment, if any required.

Morning Hypertension Indicator: A new feature offered by some manufacturers that filters stored readings by time of day. Nice, but not essential if you use tracking software.

Ecclempsia Measurement: Hypertension during pregnancy. If you�re pregnant, this is an important feature, but of limited value to anyone else.

Extended Range cuff: Will fit a larger range of arms. Important if more than one in your household plans to take their BP with the same instrument. Otherwise, just make sure the included cuff fits YOU. Most instruments indicate the arm circumference range on the outer box. Look for specific ranges (typically in cm), not simply generic size names (i.e., adult).