There are many reasons you might need to regularly monitor your blood pressure. Don’t worry, there’s a simple way to do it! A wrist blood pressure monitor is a good option if you can’t use a regular cuff or if you want a monitor that’s portable and convenient. However, these monitors take your blood pressure in a different place, meaning you must be particular about how you take your reading for accuracy. And understand how to use a wrist blood pressure monitor!
Place the cuff correctly on your wrist for the most accurate reading, arrange your arm so it’s even with your heart, then turn the monitor on to take a reading.
Some wrist blood pressure monitors may be accurate if used exactly as directed. However, the American Heart Association recommends using a home blood pressure monitor that measures blood pressure in your upper arm and not using wrist or finger blood pressure monitors.
Wrist blood pressure monitors are extremely sensitive to body position. To get an accurate reading when taking your blood pressure with a wrist monitor, your arm and wrist must be at heart level. Even then, blood pressure measurements taken at the wrist are usually higher and less accurate than those taken at your upper arm.
That’s because the wrist arteries are narrower and not as deep under your skin as those of the upper arm.
Some people can’t have their blood pressure measured at the upper arm because they have a very large arm or find blood pressure measurements painful. In these cases, measuring blood pressure at the wrist is acceptable.
It’s common for blood pressure readings taken at home on any type of monitor to be different from those taken at your doctor’s office. If you have a wrist blood pressure monitor, it’s a good idea to take your monitor to a doctor’s appointment.
Your doctor can then check your blood pressure with both a standard upper arm monitor and a wrist monitor in the correct position in the same arm to check your wrist blood pressure monitor’s accuracy. Also, make sure to use a validated device.
How Do You Use a Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor?
The first and most important tool for an accurate at-home blood pressure reading is proper technique. How you monitor your blood pressure is just as important as the tools you use. Stick to these three simple rules, and you’ll be an at-home blood pressure pro in no time:
- Be consistent – That means the same time of day and, if possible, the same location. If not, make sure you’re seated in a similar chair with your arm resting at the same height
- Stay still – For 30 minutes prior be sure to avoid exercise, caffeine, and smoking
- Cross your heart – As in keeping the cuff directly across from your heart. With a wrist monitor, that means resting your elbow on a table and holding your wrist out and up at the same level as your heart for an accurate reading.
How Accurate Are Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors?
You may have heard rumors that wrist or upper arm blood pressure monitors may be preferred for different reasons – but you have one main question: can you trust wrist blood pressure monitors?
There’s no denying that the most accurate blood pressure readings are done with an upper-arm cuff in your doctor’s office. However, if used as directed (this is the important part!), readings from clinically validated wrist cuffs are just as accurate as at-home readings from upper-arm cuffs.
Which provides the perfect segue to our next question.
Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor Pros and Cons
As is the case with most things in life, wrist blood pressure cuffs have their pros and cons.
While they are capable of being just as accurate, because of the need for proper technique, the margin of error for wrist cuffs is greater than their upper arm counterparts.
Now, for the good news. Wrist cuffs, which you may be attracted to for their great portability, are also getting smarter and easier to use all the time. Some even come with technology and apps to make sure you’re using proper technique to get the best reading.
As with any medical decisions, you should discuss it with your doctor. They can help make sure that your at-home readings are as accurate as possible. A direct comparison between your wrist monitor and the in-office equipment can help identify any margins of error and improve your at-home blood pressure readings. Which in turn can ensure the healthiest you!
Here’s a quick video that will walk you through how to take your blood pressure at home with a wrist monitor: