Choosing a home blood pressure monitor

The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, cuff-style, bicep (upper-arm) monitor.

  • Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because they yield less reliable readings.
  • Choose a monitor that has been validated. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
  • When selecting a blood pressure monitor for a senior, pregnant woman or child, make sure it is validated for these conditions.
  • Make sure the cuff fits — measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.

Once you’ve purchased your monitor, bring it to your next appointment

Have your doctor check to see that you are using it correctly and getting the same results as the equipment in the office. Plan to bring your monitor in once a year to make sure the readings are accurate.

Home blood pressure monitoring may be especially useful for:

  • Anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension).
  • Individuals starting high blood pressure treatment to determine its effectiveness.
  • People requiring closer monitoring, especially individuals with risk factors for high blood pressure and/or conditions  related to high blood pressure. 
  • Pregnant women, experiencing pregnancy-induced hypertension and/or preeclampsia. 
  • Evaluating potentially false readings, like:
    • People who only have high readings at the doctor’ s office (“white coat” hypertension). 
    • People who only have high readings at home but not at the doctor’ s office (“masked” hypertension).
  • NOTE: People with atrial fibrillation or other arrhythmias may not be good candidates for home monitoring because electronic home blood pressure devices may not be able to give accurate measurements. Ask your doctor to recommend a monitoring method that works for you.

Left-arm vs. right-arm blood pressure

Several studies have been done to determine what is a normal variation between right and left arm. In general, any difference of 10 mm Hg or less is considered normal and is not a cause for concern.