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How to Buy Blood Pressure Monitor for Home Use

There are two types of blood pressure monitors:

  • Auscultatory method that uses inflatable cuff, mercury manometer and stethoscope to listen to blood flow,
  • Oscillometric method that uses an electronic pressure sensor and a mathematical algorithm to compute the results.

Auscultatory method gives the most accurate result and also requires a higher skill level. Oscillometric machines require periodic calibration and may produce inaccurate readings in patients with heart and circulation problems, that include pulsus alternans, arterial sclerosis, preeclampsia, arrhythmia, and pulsus paradoxus.

In clinical and acute care settings, oscillometric meters should be used with care. Even for the best oscillometric blood pressure monitor, it may give awful results for certain types of patients.

Accuracy and reliability: The primary purpose of a blood pressure monitor is to measure your blood pressure. So the key selection criterion is to find one that produce accurate results within its operating range consistently and reliability for you. Because of the nature of oscillometric algorithms, a monitor will not work for all possible situations. If you need an accurate reading, you should validate your monitor by comparing it with other auscultatory meters, such as those in your doctor's office or medical clinics. Be sure to stay calm and take both readings using the same arm. Readings can change significantly with different arms or within a few minutes.

Ease of use: Most home-use blood pressure monitors use oscillometry and they are relatively easy to use. Many have one-touch operation and would inflate the cuff automatically. Make sure the display is large enough for you to read.

Cuff size: Make sure the cuff size is right for you if you choose a oscillometric meter. Undersized cuffs may yield too high a pressure, whereas oversized cuffs yields too low a pressure.

Other features: There are other features, non-essential, but will assist you in using the meter:

  • Memory: Save previous readings and timestamps; generate various statistics.
  • Multi-person memory: Save readings for more than one person.
  • Computer interface: Save readings to a computer for further analysis by you or your doctor.
  • Software program: Analyze the data.
  • Appearance
  • Portability
  • Ease of storage
  • Friendly user interface
  • Accessories: storage case, log book, battery
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