The Best Blood Pressure Monitors
Blood pressure increases each time the heart beats (diastolic) and it decreases when the heart relaxes (systolic). Your blood pressure can change continually throughout the day, almost minute by minute, however, ideally it should be less than 120/80 mm Hg for an adult age 20 or over. A good quality, reliable, blood pressure monitor is available from less £20 to £100. Personally I use this Omron M10 Blood pressure monitor with personal training clients as it's easy to use, accurate and reasonably priced. This is also the model I use to check the accuracy of the other BP monitors reviewed.
Wrist or Upper Arm Cuff?
Upper arm cuff BP monitors are generally more accurate. The reason for this is twofold. 1) The cuff is level with the heart (the optimal position) and 2) The arteries in the upper arm are harder to restrict being thicker and deeper under the skin. This makes the measurement of force required to restrict blood flow easier. Wrist cuff BP monitors can also be accurate, but it is essential the wrist is held at the same level as the heart. Wrist cuff style BP monitors are also more convenient and less evasive as no removal of clothing is necessary.
Monitoring health through your BP
Everyone an interest in their health and wellness should know what their Blood Pressure is. It is also important that you have an understanding of what the numbers mean. Having a BP that is either too HIGH (hypertension) or too LOW (hypotension) is not something you can really feel or notice yourself. However, the long term affects of a high blood pressure can lead to life threatening issues like heart attack and stroke (ext ref¹). Low blood pressure, although not as serious, can lead to episodes of dizziness or even fainting.
Understanding Blood Pressure readings
All the blood pressure monitors reviewed by CardioCritic provide medically certified blood pressure readings with accurate diastolic and systolic readings.
The Ideal blood pressure is below 120 over 80 (120/80mmHg). People with a BP below 120/80 have a much lower risk of heart disease or stroke.
Normal – High BP
Unfortunately, most adults have a blood pressure above the OPTIMAL level. A majority of adults have a blood pressure in between NORMAL and HIGH-NORMAL e.g. those with a BP from 120/80 to 140/90. If your blood pressure is within this range you should look at ways of reducing it. These changes can relate to general lifestyle eg. taking more exercise, reducing alcohol consumption and eating more fruit and vegetables.
Hypertension – Grade 1 to 3
A blood pressure reading with a systolic reading over 140 and a diastolic reading over 90 can be considered to be High Blood Pressure. If you have successive readings which consistently read in this HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE zone you should make an appointment to see your GP or nurse.
Summary of Blood Pressure ranges
The figures below indicate the most widely used 6 levels of blood pressure (in mmHg)
- Optimal > BP = under 120/80
- Normal > BP = 120+/80+
- High – normal > BP = 130+/85+
- Grade 1 – Severe Hypertension > BP = 140+/90+
- Grade 2 – Severe Hypertension > BP = 160+/100+
- Grade 3 – Severe Hypertension > BP = 180+/110+