Harvard Women's Health Watch

Ask the doctor: Should I buy a blood pressure monitor?

Q. I have high blood pressure. Is it worth it to buy a blood pressure monitor to check my pressure at home?

A. Yes. Habitual home blood pressure checks give a more accurate view of your blood pressure than intermittent office-based readings or occasional checks at your drugstore. Home monitoring is particularly helpful for evaluating the effectiveness of lifestyle changes or medications aimed at lowering your blood pressure.

I recommend you buy a monitor that does not require a stethoscope, with a cuff that wraps around your upper arm. Arm cuff monitors are generally more accurate than wrist or finger cuffs. Monitors are available at most pharmacies and medical supply stores, as well as on the Internet. The Dabl Educational Trust website
(www.dableducational.org) has lots of useful information. Before you start using your monitor, have it checked at your doctor's office to be sure it is accurate.

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