Keeping tabs on your blood pressure can save your life

You probably don’t need a scale to tell you if your weight is too high. But when it comes to another important number – your blood pressure – you might not know whether you’re in trouble if you don’t’ measure it. Checking your blood pressure regularly at home is a good idea. And some of the new monitors make it easier than ever.

In the past, we found that only the standard arm-cuff monitors gave accurate readings, but that’s no longer true, according to the latest tests. For the first time we have found that some wrist models can be just as reliable. And a cool arm-cuff model that teams up with your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad performed well when we used it with an iPhone.

Experts tested blood-pressure monitors on 32 staffers, including some with high blood pressure. The top models are listed below. You can buy them at pharmacies, drugstores, and big-box stores. Check with your health insurer to see whether your policy covers the purchase of a blood-pressure monitor.

Know the danger zone

• Normal – below 120/80
• Pre-hypertension – 120-139/80-89
• High – 140/90 or higher

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, written as mm Hg. The systolic (top) number measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats; the diastolic (bottom) measures the pressure between heartbeats.

Best arm monitor

Omron 10 series BP785 – Price $80

Why we like it This top-rated monitor is easy to use and loaded with features, including a one-size-fits-most cuff; an irregular-heartbeat detector; an indicator that tells you whether you have a high-blood-pressure reading; multiple user memories; and a mode that averages three readings at an interval you choose, up to 2 minutes apart.

Best wrist monitor

Omron 7 series BP652 – Price $60

Why we like it This was the top-rated wrist model and the best performer overall in the tests. It is loaded with features, including an irregular-heartbeat detector and multiple user memories. It has a positioning indicator that keeps it from taking a reading when it’s placed incorrectly. Just one bummer: buttons to set the time and date are a bit too small.

For Apple fans

iHealth Dock BP3 – Price $100

Why we like it Download a free app, then attach your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. You can use your device’s touch screen to control the monitor. Save your data and share the information with your doctor by email. (we did not test that feature). The iHealth Dock also has an irregular-heartbeat detector and a risk-category indicator. A large cuff is sold separately.

Bargain buy

Relion Hem-741Crel (Walmart) – Price $45

Why we like it This is a pretty basic blood-pressure monitor, and you can’t beat the price. It has a large display and buttons that are easy to see and push. The monitor has a few nice extras, including an irregular-heartbeat detector and a risk-category indicator. It can track and store the blood-pressure numbers for multiple users. A large cuff is sold separately.

You may also like...