This article was last updated on April 20, 2020.
Home is where the heart is, right? For some people, at-home blood pressure monitoring can be an effective way to manage high blood pressure. Self-measuring blood pressure is easy, convenient, and affordable.
But, how do you do it? And what type of monitor should you purchase? If your doctor thinks at-home monitoring is right for you, find out how you can get the best readings possible.
Choosing the best at-home blood pressure monitor
Reliable blood pressure monitors can be found at your local drug store or online. If you're in the market for an at-home blood pressure monitor, consider these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Opens New Window:
- Automated: An automated blood pressure monitor provides a more accurate reading than a manual one. Take the guesswork out of measurement and let the machine do the work.
- Upper arm cuffs: While wrist or finger cuffs might seem less clunky, upper arm cuffs will give you clear, consistent measurements.
- Validated by AAMI: The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) regularly reviews blood pressure measuring devices. They publish which devices pass their test, how the device should be used, and if they are recommended or not.
- Memory storage capacity: This can be a helpful tool for you and your doctor. Being able to review blood pressure readings over a period of time can provide insight into your condition.
Once you’ve found a blood pressure monitor you like, take it to your personal doctor to check its accuracy against their device and get a lesson on how to use it.
Buy a blood pressure monitor with your HSA or FSA
If you put money into a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA), you can use that money to purchase a home blood pressure monitor. They're considered eligible expenses for both HSAs and FSAs External Site.
Tips for getting the most accurate blood pressure reading
Measuring your blood pressure at home can be an easy and comfortable way to get a better picture of your heart health. Just keep these recommendations from the American Heart Association External Site in mind when self-measuring your blood pressure.
- Sit up straight with feet flat on the floor
- Support your arm on a flat surface with the upper arm at heart level
- Place the bottom of the cuff right above your elbow crease
- Stay consistent; measure at the same time every day and take two readings (one minute apart)
- Cross your legs
- Smoke or drink caffeine 30 minutes prior
- Place the cuff over clothing
- Rush yourself; take your time and take a few deep breaths before measurement
Recommended blood pressure level
As a reminder, a normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg. The top number, referred to as systolic, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number, referred to as diastolic, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.
Don’t forget about BeWell 24/7SM
If you have questions or concerns about a reading, you always have access to Wellmark’s free health information hotline, BeWell 24/7. Available 24/7 365 days a year, BeWell can provide you with an evaluation based on your symptoms and recommendations for where to go for care. Just call Eight, Four, Four, Eight, Four, Be Well (844-842-3935).