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Choose a blood pressure monitor

Updated on January 13, 2013

My blood pressure monitor buying experience

I want to share my experience in choosing and buying a blood pressure monitor and hopefully save others from making the same mistakes I did. I spent money I didn't need to spend before I got a monitor that was accurate and useful for me.

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How I found out I needed a BP monitor

Thanksgiving weekend, I was visiting friends out of town when we were walking through the woods. Underneath all the leaves and twigs was a rock that was about the size of a small potato with irregular sides. Since I was only wearing lightweight, slip-on shoes, I felt the rock through the shoe and felt pain in the top of my foot. We continued to walk, enjoying the time together, the wonderful sunny weather and nature. It wasn't until several hours later when my foot kept hurting and was starting to swell that I decided I needed to get it checked out. There weren't any Urgent Care centers near by, so we went to the local ER. When doing the triage, my blood pressure was 178/104. That scared the you-know-what out of me, but didn't seem to concern them very much. After x-rays, they wrapped my foot and ankle in an ACE bandage and sent me on my way.

wrist monitor
wrist monitor

My first monitor - wrist model

After a few days of being home, I decided I needed to check my blood pressure again and went to a local drug store where once again, my blood pressure was way higher than I felt comfortable with. Because I had rewards points on Amazon, I went home add did a search and found a reasonably priced wrist blood pressure monitor that had good reviews. Since I'm a prime member, I ordered it and got it in two days. I used it several times and my BP was scarily high. Like 200/114 or something like that. I called my doctor's office and asked to come in for a blood pressure check and explained the situation. Once there, they took my blood pressure manually and with my wrist monitor and although my BP was high, the monitor was at least 20 points higher than the manual pressure the nurse and doctor took. They did an EKG and decided I needed to consult with a cardiologist to be safe. My doctor also doubled my current blood pressure medication. Three days later, I had an appointment with the cardiologist.

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large sized cuff
large sized cuff

Second monitor - Around the upper arm - large cuff

At my cardiologist appointment, I once again brought my wrist monitor and the doctor scoffed at it, telling me they weren't very accurate at all. My blood pressure when taken by the cardiologist was much more reasonable at 145/95, which was still too high. He recommended that I stay on the double dose of medication I was on and get an upper arm blood pressure monitor along with a larger sized cuff. He gave me a flyer on which models were recommended by Consumer Reports. Armed (pun intended) with this information, I went to our local Wal-Mart and bought the recommended monitor and larger sized cuff (sold separately). I've used it several times and taken it to my doctor and it's very accurate compared with the manual blood pressure readings.

Photo property of author. All rights reserved.

In summary

I'm also happy to report that my blood pressure is very close to normal once again.

So, in summary, don't waste your money on a wrist blood pressure monitor and get a decent upper arm monitor and if you have an arm measurement over 13", get the larger cuff. It will save you money and needless worry if the monitor works as it should and gives the correct results. One positive thing about this experience was that because the wrist monitor was so inaccurate, I did see a doctor and was put on an increase in medication that I did need.

Do you have a favorite blood pressure monitor?

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