If you have high blood pressure, monitoring your blood pressure at home makes a lot of sense. With home blood pressure monitoring you get a better idea of how your blood pressures change throughout the day – rather than depending on a single reading in a doctor’s office – which can be artificially high or low. When looking for equipment for checking blood pressure at home, many people enjoy the ease of using a wrist blood pressure monitor. Are wrist blood pressure monitors accurate?
Are Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors Accurate?
A wrist blood pressure monitor are accurate, but only if they’re used correctly. It’s much easier to get an inaccurate reading with a wrist blood pressure monitor because it’s so sensitive to body position. When using one, the wrist always has to be level with the heart to get an accurate blood pressure.
According to a study carried out at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, a wrist blood pressure monitor gives an accurate reading (confirmed by taking a blood pressure using a catheter in the artery) as long as the wrist and arm are at heart level when the blood pressure is taken.
In fact, this study showed that when used correctly, a wrist blood pressure monitor is more accurate than measuring blood pressure in the upper arm using a mercury sphygmomanometer. In this study, all of the patients were lying down when their wrist pressure was measured to ensure that the wrist was level with the heart.
A wrist blood pressure monitor has the advantage of requiring only a single cuff size since wrist measurements don’t vary much between thinner and heavier people.
Should You Use a Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor for Checking Blood Pressure at Home?
Wrist blood pressure monitors are simpler to use, but more subject to inaccuracies from incorrect body positioning. If you use a wrist blood pressure monitor, take blood pressure readings lying flat or when the person is sitting in a chair with the arm and wrist resting on a table – level with the heart. Don’t skimp on this step if you want an accurate reading.
The American Heart Association continues to recommend upper arm cuff monitors for monitoring blood pressure at home since inaccuracies are so common with wrist blood pressure monitors – due to poor technique and inaccurate equipment. If you choose to use a wrist blood pressure monitor for checking blood pressure at home, have your doctor verify the accuracy of your machine by checking your blood pressure using a traditional sphygmomanometer and comparing it to the reading your machine gives.
All in all, it’s still best to use an upper arm cuff monitor since they’ve been around longer and have the American Heart Association seal of approval.