Are automatic blood pressure monitors accurate?
September 11, 2012 7:55 PM   Subscribe

Are automatic blood pressure monitors any good?

I bought an automatic blood pressure monitor ten years ago, threw it away after checking it against the old-school BP monitor in my doctors office.

I am considering trying again, looking at a device made by Omron (linked here), I'm not afraid to spend a few bucks to get something that'll A) be accurate, and B) last more than ten minutes.

Anyone have experience with automatic BP monitors? Anyone have experience with this particular model, or any by Omron?
posted by dancestoblue to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My parents own an ormon. Mine is from Kroger, upon my docs recommendation. We take them to our physicals and the doctor checks them against the one In His office, and they have both always been fine.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:58 PM on September 11, 2012

I have a different Ormon model (HEM-780 which is just a step below the one you've linked to) and it works really well. Like dpx.mfx I had it checked against the one at my doctor's office and it works fine. It's compact, inexpensive, and I've used it for about 5 years with no problems.
posted by k8lin at 8:08 PM on September 11, 2012

I have one of these -- it's a wrist unit. Works great and is accurate.
posted by kindall at 8:39 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have an older Omron (old enough that I can't find it on Amazon) that's a wrist unit like kindall's. It's fine, mostly seems accurate but if you have your arm in a weird place or you just stood up or sat down it can be a little hinky but for averaging a few readings over time I find it to be very accurate and in line with the info I get from the doc and/or the pharmacy arm blood pressure machine.
posted by jessamyn at 9:23 PM on September 11, 2012

I have the Omron 652. It is what they use in two doctor's offices I've been in. I've taken mine and tested it against theirs and to another doc who uses an expensive professional model or does it manually and they all seem to get about the same results. It is wonderfully convenient and has a memory so I don't have to keep a paper log.
posted by monopas at 9:24 PM on September 11, 2012

My husband has a home monitor. When he goes to the doctor the nurse checks our home BP monitor against the office one. It's been consistently accurate.

From the research we did, the wrist monitors are less accurate than the arm ones.
posted by 26.2 at 10:22 PM on September 11, 2012

Best answer: I have an Omron, not sure which model, cuff goes above the elbow, stores the last 60 readings. I got it on the advice of my physician about 3 years ago. It is accurate, and a good way to determine the effect of meds, food, sleep duration/quality etc, on blood pressure, which is a good idea for anyone with hypertension. I discovered that aspirin and Motrin both raise pressure significantly, and reading up on the topic confirmed that. I therefore take OTC painkillers very sparingly, and only when really necessary. Salt (to a reasonable degree) in food has almost no effect on my pressure. Alcohol lowers BP short-term, raises it very significantly as a rebound effect afterwards (after the buzz wears off). Good things to know.
posted by RRgal at 10:23 PM on September 11, 2012

You can use an old school sphygmomanometer (BP cuff) on yourself very accurately. Inflate until you can no longer feel a pulse in your arm. Release at about 2 mgHg/second until you feel your pulse- that's the top number. Continue to release at the same rate until you can no longer feel the pulse in your arm- that's the bottom number. Store the information by writing it down.
posted by kamikazegopher at 11:31 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I always have a 10 point difference between wrist (lower) and arm (higher). The arm ones seem more accurate.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 11:33 PM on September 11, 2012

Having the right sized cuff is important, or the reading will be inaccurate. The home monitors usually have markings on them to show where they need to be for an accurate reading. If your cuff isn't within those ranges you need to size up or down accordingly.
posted by essexjan at 2:57 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was a paramedic, and the automatic machines most people have are completely and utterly worthless. The readings patients would give us from their machines were reliably 20-30 mmHg off from the readings we would take manually, and would become more and more wildly inaccurate as the machine aged (there was the one patient who insisted his blood pressure was 60/40 because that was the reading his machine always gave him.)

If this is particularly important to you, buy a sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. It'll probably be cheaper, too.
posted by Tiresias at 5:19 AM on September 12, 2012

What my doctor told me was that the automatic monitor was good for trends (is the number going up or down?) but not accurate on the actual numbers. If my doctor gives me a recommendation for one when I see him next week, I'll pass it on.
posted by immlass at 9:35 AM on September 12, 2012

My wrist unit is always within 5 points of the doctor's office unit.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:01 PM on September 12, 2012

Response by poster: Based upon what I've read, the answers you all gave, speaking to my pharmacist and most especially to my cardiologist, I went ahead and purchased the OMRON BP785 over-the-arm cuff. My cardiologist recommended against the wrist units, and I've read that elsewhere also, including a couple of comments here; though I'm certain that some are great, and that all have gotten better in recent years, I figured what the hell and bought one I have a bit more trust in.

Side note: Suppose I had a clot somewhere in my arm, I take the blood pressure at my wrist and it shows up nice and low but in fact that's only because the clot in the arm blocks it off. Another doc -- I found it on the internets, it must be true! -- went so far as suggest checking on both arms a couple of times, in case one arm or shoulder maybe has something blocking the pressure on one arm or the other.

I bought it from walmart, for easiest return should it be defective in whatever way. Walmart was not the least expensive and unlike some other online vendors they do charge tax but mostly it doesn't bother me to pay taxes, we need roads and teachers and firemen etc and etc.

Anyways, I'm calling this one resolved -- thanx for all the great answers.
posted by dancestoblue at 4:13 PM on September 13, 2012

Just FYI, wrist units can be inaccurate if you don't hold the monitor at heart height. That's why it's usually taken on the upper arm. Fortunately this is simple; just hold the monitor in front of your heart while it's doing its thing.
posted by kindall at 10:12 PM on September 25, 2012

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