Blood Pressure Monitor Accuracy

Written by Sarah Provost
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Many factors influence the accuracy of a blood pressure reading using a home monitor. To make the best use of your investment, you should check its calibration, use an appropriately sized cuff, and position the instrument correctly. You must also prepare for the reading by following some simple guidelines.

When you first purchase your monitor, you should take it to your health care professional to be checked for accurate calibration. Have it checked yearly thereafter if it is a digital monitor. Manual monitors are very delicate and easily damaged, so they should be checked more frequently.

A standard pressure cuff is designed to fit an arm with a circumference between nine and 13 inches. If your arm is larger or smaller than that, you need to purchase the appropriate cuff, or your readings will not be accurate. The cuff should be positioned on the upper arm, with the lower edge at least an inch above the crease of the elbow. Readings can differ from one arm to the other, so always put the cuff on the same arm.

Preparing for Your Reading

You should abstain from smoking, drinking coffee or alcohol and exercising for half an hour before you take your reading. You should also empty your bladder, since a full bladder tends to raise blood pressure. Sit quietly for three to five minutes with your feet flat on the floor and your back supported. Do not talk while taking your reading. Your arm should be supported on a surface that is at the same level as your heart. Following this procedure each time you take a reading will give you the highest level of accuracy.

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