One of the best things you can do for your health is to regularly monitor your blood pressure. It’s important to keep those readings in a stable range, as your risk of developing serious complications increases significantly when they drop too low or climb too high.
Fortunately, you don’t need to visit your doctor’s office and can measure your own blood pressure at home using an arm or wrist blood pressure monitor.
This simple tool is an essential piece of equipment for any senior, and in this guide, we’ll see how these machines work while highlighting the best monitors on the market today.
How to Read Your Blood Pressure
A BP monitor will give you an accurate reading, but that reading won’t mean much unless you know how to translate it.
Your reading contains two numbers. The first of these is known as systolic pressure and indicates the pressure applied during a heartbeat. The second is diastolic pressure and refers to the pressure applied when your heart is at rest.
A reading is considered “normal” when the first number is 120 or less and the second is 80 or less. Anything above is “elevated”. If it’s 130 to 139/80 to 89, it’s high blood pressure or hypertension stage 1 and if it’s 140+/90+, it’s hypertension stage 2. Anything over 180 and 120 is considered critical.
Most seniors have elevated blood pressure and unless it is very high or accompanied by other symptoms, such as an irregular heartbeat, dizziness, or sickness, it may be nothing to worry about. However, you should still consult with your doctor when you have an elevated reading.
What to Look for in a Blood Pressure Monitor
A blood pressure cuff or monitor is a machine you can use to monitor your blood pressure. It will give you regular readings that you can make a note of and give to your doctor.
Generally, there are two types of BP monitor sold for home use—one for the wrist and one for the upper arm. If you have large arms, you may opt for the wrist cuff, but these are generally not as effective.
Even the best wrist blood pressure monitors won’t provide the sort of accurate reading that you need. In such instances, it’s best to get an extra-large cuff that fits your arm.
Additional features to look out for include:
- Carrying Case: Does it feature a convenient carrying case? Not only will it allow you to take the monitor anywhere you go, but it also ensures the device stays safe and protected when not in use.
- Additional Trackers: Some devices will warn you when your heart rate is too high, and others contain an irregular heartbeat indicator, waving those red flags and helping you to get the help you need.
- Screen Size: If you have vision problems, you’ll need a monitor that has a large display with bold backlit numbers. Accurate results are useless if you can’t see them.
The Best Blood Pressure Monitors
We searched Amazon to find the best BP monitors, focusing on quality, ease of use, portability, and price to highlight the best products available right now.
Omron is one of the biggest names in this industry. It’s a well-built machine that features a large LCD display that shows your current and previous readings. You can track up to 100 readings per user and there is room for 2 users. For extra readings, you can connect the device to your smartphone via Bluetooth, with support for Android and iOS through a user-friendly app.
The cuff fits snuggly and should be suitable for most users. It’s our top pick by quite some distance, as the Omron brand has been recommended by doctors and other medical professionals for decades.
PARAMED Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor
This battery powered PARAMED device features a snug upper arm cuff and a large LCD screen. It tracks your blood pressure and heart rate and can store data for 2 users. This highly rated device is available for less than $25.
Annsky Blood Pressure Monitor
An affordable digital blood pressure monitor with a large LCD screen, memory feature, and a low price of around $20. It can track your blood pressure and heart rate and provides accurate readings every time.
How to Keep High Blood Pressure in Check
Using a blood pressure machine every so often is one of the best things you can do for your health. It can warn you about potential issues, which you can then report to your doctor.
Many people adopt a “what I don’t know won’t hurt me” attitude. They are scared of blood pressure readings and tests in general because they’re worried about the potential implications of a bad reading.
Regardless, it’s always best to know. As far as health is concerned, ignorance can kill. Along with regular home blood pressure monitoring, you should keep the following tips in mind:
- Get Help When Needed: As soon as you get a concerning reading, speak with your doctor. Blood pressure machines can tell you if there is a problem, but they can’t fix that problem. Your doctor, on the other hand, can prescribe medications, recommend a lifestyle change, and more.
- Eat Right; Stay Slim: Obese individuals are more prone to high blood pressure, as are those who subsist on a diet rich in processed foods. Try to avoid consuming too much refined sugar and salt and stick with whole, healthy foods where possible. This diet will keep your heart healthy and could help you lose a few pounds, which will also reduce your risk.
- Exercise Regularly: If you have high blood pressure, you may be worried about performing excessive exercise, but that doesn’t mean you should give up entirely! Your heart and blood pressure will benefit from the occasional brisk walk, swim, or bike ride.
- Stop Smoking and Drinking to Excess: Smoking can do more to reduce your lifespan than fast food and a sedentary lifestyle. It is incredibly toxic and will increase your risk of developing heart disease, as well as a host of cancers.
- Stay Stress Free: Avoid stressful situations and do what you can to stay relaxed and calm. Spend time with friends, take time to read and relax, and don’t work too hard. It will do your heart a world of good!
Conclusion: Home Blood Pressure Monitors vs Official Blood Pressure Measurements
Obviously, it’s always best to get an official reading from a medical professional, when possible. Not only can they give you more accurate measurements, but they can also recommend a course of treatment if the reading is too high.
However, this doesn’t always work. One of the issues with getting a reading in a doctor’s office is that the process of visiting the doctor and waiting for an appointment, combined with the fear of a bad reading, may cause your heart to quicken and your blood pressure to rise.
In such cases, your doctor may ask you to relax and wait a few moments before a repeat reading is taken. However, you won’t face such an issue with home use, as you’re unlikely to be scared or anxious in your own home.