Hypertension may well be the medical term given for high blood pressure, but there is another name that is sometimes used – “The Silent Killer”.
One in three adults are affected by the condition, but as many as a third of these can be unaware of a problem. They feel the odd twinge or headache, but simply put this down to feeling a little under the weather. Consider this – hypertension is the biggest cause of strokes known, it also has a massive say in the amount of heart related problems we suffer from.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
There may be lots of gimmicks or unnecessary bits of equipment for your health available today, but rest assured that home blood pressure monitors (BPMs) are not gimmicks and they are highly useful. Taking regular measurements is particularly important as you get older, as the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle can build up over time. If you smoke, are obese, are physically inactive, or have diabetes or high cholesterol, you may also be at an increased risk.
While never a substitute for seeing a doctor, being able to regularly measure and most importantly track blood pressure can literally save your life. Here’s our selection of ten quality BPMs you can buy right now.
Omron is one of the most established brands on the home BPM market today. The company boasts an almost bewildering range of several dozen monitors for sale – the majority of which are for use on the upper arm. Omron devices are consistently ranked as the USA’s most trusted home BPM suppliers and in terms of world sales they have sold over 100 million blood pressure units.
EVOLV is a sleek looking one-piece monitor which has no tabletop unit, no tubes and no wires. Because of this the product is highly portable and easy to operate. Users wrap the entire unit around their upper arm and the blood pressure reading is displayed in bold numbers right on the face of the device.
EVOLV provides you with a complete view of your blood pressure with systolic, diastolic and pulse readings. It also detects the appearance of irregular heartbeats during measurement and gives a warning signal with readings.
With this device, the company has introduced an exclusive new heart health algorithm it calls Advanced Accuracy to measure more data points to ensure clinically-accurate readings. The algorithm also helps to eliminate interference which may be caused due to movement or other external factors.
This is BPM that you can use it completely independently of your smartphone. All you are required to do to take a reading is press one button.
With this device Omron has married their accurate technology with connectivity. In our hands-on review, we found the operation to be very smooth, fast and noiseless. The convenience of having no bulky heavy units or long tubes cannot be overstated!
Withings has a great range of devices that include fitness trackers, smartwatches, connected scales, a smart thermometer and more. The French outfit was also one of the first to bring a connected BPM to market.
Those who are overweight are increasing their risk of high blood pressure and the more weight you put on, the bigger your problems. Using this BPM in combination with the company’s connected scale, allows you to see improvements in your health as the weight comes off. Its easy for someone to tell you that losing weight helps with regulating blood pressure – but actually seeing your results graphed together makes all the difference.
We are really impressed with this one. Everything from ease of set-up, the smooth operation, the timeliness of the results sent to your smartphone and the colour-coded reporting of your results within the smartphone app. Simply slip on the cuff, turn on the BPM and the Health Mate app will do its thing.
Keep an eye out for Withings BPM Core. Due to land soon, this is a smart BPM with ECG and digital stethoscope.
Philips has recently joined the increasingly crowded market for wearables with its own platform and ecosystem. The health suite gadgets are all listed with the FDA and include: a health watch, a body analysis scale, an ear thermometer, an upper arm BMP and a wrist BMP.
As you would expect, the Upper Arm BPM measures systolic & diastolic pressure and heart rate. It also monitors your blood pressure over time in the Philips Health Suite health app and shows how your measurement compares to the WHO blood pressure classification. Up to two different people can use the monitor to track their readings.
It is clear that Philips is not targeting fitness enthusiasts with its suite of devices. These are gadgets that are targeted for consumers who are at risk of chronic, lifestyle-related conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease, and who may not have considered a health wearable in the past.
QardioArm is a unique and stylish BPM, that is clinically validated to measure your systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate with medical-grade accuracy. The monitor also includes irregular heart beat detection which QardioArm uniquely stores to help you track your heart fully.
The device is light, portable, compact, and discrete. In fact, it is rather Apple-like in design and that extends to the classy packaging. The makers made the cuff with simple in mind. It has a cuff and that’s it. No power button, no display. To use the cuff, you absolutely must have a smartphone.
QardioArm offers a number of unique features such as ‘places’, allowing you to monitor your blood pressure across multiple locations which helps you to understand how your lifestyle impacts your health. The ‘friends and family’ function lets you follow others or allows others to follow you back, creating a support network for better health outcomes.
This is the first BPM to support Apple Health and now works with the Apple Watch. Available in a range of colours, QardioArm represents good value for money.
Those looking for bells and whistles may want to skip this one. But overall, Omron 10 is a reliable, simple “does what it says on the tin” device.
The BPM makes sure that you have the equipment correctly fitted before use with a light telling you whether the cuff is attached correctly. As well as displaying your blood pressure, the machine will display your pulse and identify whether you have an irregular heartbeat.
Even the best BPMs sometimes deliver misreadings. Omron 10 eliminates a lot of this risk through the use of dual sensors. If the gadget detect an aberration during the reading, the unit alerts the user to the potential problem via an error code.
Omron has married their accurate technology with connectivity. With the free Omron Wellness app, users can wirelessly sync their readings to their smartphone or other mobile device. You can also sync with the Apple Health app.
For some customers, possibly older ones in particular, one of the strengths of this device may be that you can use it completely independently of your smartphone. The interface is simple enough – all you are required to do to take a reading is press one big, blue button helpfully labeled “START/STOP.” The downside is that the syncing of the data between the device and your phone is not automatic.
With a bulky, clunky-looking design, the Omron 10 cannot compete aesthetically with the sleeker, smaller, wearable BPMs. However, the high accuracy, reliability, and lower price compared to many of the other brands on the market make this a great choice.
Blipcare is a young company based in Chicago that has come out with the world’s first WiFi BPM (that has been cleared by FDA and is CE marked).
Unlike Bluetooth, you don’t need a smart phone to upload your readings. With no cables to plug in, readings are sent via WiFi automatically to the cloud so you can access them from any computer. If the network is available, the monitor will save readings and re-send when the connection is back online.
Rather cleverly, the monitor can also remind you with audible beeps to take readings – in essence acting like a smart alarm clock. Finally, as you can see from the picture, Blip can track blood pressure readings for two users. Just press one of the two buttons on the device to identify the user, and the monitor does the rest.
Omron Complete is a bit different from other devices on this list. The gizmo is an upper arm blood pressure monitor that also allows you to keep tabs on your ECG readings.
The fact that you get both means you’ll get a complete picture of your heart health from a single device. ECG readings are obtained by touching electrodes located on the top face and both sides of the monitor.
Complete was developed in partnership with Alivecor. Complete uses a new algorithm developed by AliveCor which has greater success at detecting the possibility of Afib.
iHealth Feel is a no hassle monitor that makes it easy and convenient to check your own blood pressure from your upper arm, anytime and anywhere. Readings are remembered and can be recalled individually or shown in graph form. Just press the button on the device to switch it on, open the app and press start.
View is a BPM from the same company that takes measurements from your wrist. To ensure accuracy, the device automatically detects wrist position and will not begin reading until the correct position has been achieved. Simply follow the arrows on the monitor to guide your wrist up or down.
Even with all these precautions, blood pressure measurements taken at the wrist may be less accurate than those taken at your arm. That is because the wrist arteries are narrower and not as deep under your skin as those of the forearm. The View, not by nature of a flaw in its design, may suffer from the above. Most people are going to experience higher results on a wrist monitor than they are one that goes around the upper arm. So if we understand that, and set it aside in favor of the increased convenience of a monitor for the wrist, then what we’re left with is an attractive and well designed instrument.
Both the Feel and View also take pulse readings and detect irregular heartbeat. They have good battery life as well as a built in rechargeable battery and the software is simple and easy to use.
Another wrist BPM, Koogeek’s device is a great option for those on a budget. The gadget covers all the basics at a much lower price compared to the leading brands. In our tests, we were pleasantly surprised with the quality, ease of use and accuracy of its readings.
To take a measurement, simply press the on button on the device. The cuff will automatically start to inflate. The unit can record up to 99 reading on the device itsself. To get accurate readings your arm and wrist must be at heart level.
The other option is to take a measurement with the help of the smartphone app. The red heart in the app will begin to pulse as you turn the monitor on, indicating that a connection has been made. As you take a reading, both the blood pressure monitor and smartphone app will show the measurement results and save the data.
Braun is a well known consumer products company based in Germany with origins that span back nearly a century. Its recently expanded is range of health and wellness products with two smart blood pressure monitors – the iCheck 7 and the ActivScan 9. Both devices enable you to monitor your heart health at home through a simple colour coded system. The iCheck 7 can be worn on the wrist, while the ActivScan 9 is a more traditional blood pressure monitor that works from the upper arm.
In our tests we found iCheck 7 is extremely easy to use, it works seamlessly and is fast to take measurements. This makes it ideal for storing or popping into your bag or suitcase for checking blood pressure on the go. The device is a little finicky about your arm position but this is understandable as correct positioning is important when taking readings from the wrist.
The results are colour coded and stored on the device itself. The accompanying smartphone app is good with the ability to add in other health data and follow the evolution of your readings over time.
This is basically what you want in a blood pressure monitor. A no hassle device that simply does the job and works well.
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