Compare Blood Pressure Monitors and other Digital Health tools 

In this article we cover:

  • What two things can make the difference between success, and failure in reducing Blood Pressure

  • Your requirements for a Blood Pressure monitor

  • Help choosing what you need
  • Table of Blood Pressure monitors with buying links

  • Wearables versus traditional Blood Pressure Monitors

  • What are the advantages of a wearable Blood Pressure monitor?

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What two things can make the difference between success, and failure in reducing Blood Pressure

Most of the advice around lowering your blood pressure revolves around making lifestyle changes, including exercising more, loosing weight, cutting down on drinking, eating healthily, and stopping smoking. If you try and do these things, you will work out what works for you. Your GP may invite you back to see them once a year for an annual blood pressure check, and medication review. 

However, our advice is that you will learn a lot faster about what works for you, and thus feel better quicker, if you take, and record daily measurements at home, plot them on a graph, and review them.

Clinical research shows that people who succeed in losing weight, or lowering their blood pressure, do at least these two things:

  1. Regularly measure their progress with what they are trying to change [e.g. weight, blood pressure], they also make sure that they understand their numbers, and can track any underlying improvements 

  2. Work out, write down, and follow an action plan. Smartphone Apps can be really helpful in automatically nudging you with reminders, to help you follow a plan.

So when we discuss what you might want from a Blood Pressure Monitor we recommend you include features like:

  • Memory for last few results

  • Graphing [either in the BPM or via an App]

  • Does it work with a health App - this can help you understand your results, draw graphs and keep you on track with your action plan by nudging you.

What might your requirements be for a Blood Pressure monitor

  • Buy a monitor with an upper arm cuff: If you are buying a home blood pressure monitor, choose one that measures your blood pressure at your upper arm, not your wrist or finger. The cheapest ones start from £10 and are available in most local pharmacies, and larger supermarkets.

  • Make sure the cuff is the right size for your arm: Make sure you have the right cuff size for your arm. It should wrap snugly around your upper arm, with just enough space to slide two fingertips underneath. Most home blood pressure monitors will come with a medium-sized cuff. If your upper arm is particularly larger or smaller than average, you may need to buy a different sized cuff separately.

  • Make sure it’s UK approved: If you are buying a blood pressure monitor, make sure it is approved for use in the UK. To make sure your monitor is accurate, choose one that has been listed as validated for accuracy by the British and Irish Hypertension Society (BIHS). This means that the digital monitor has gone through a series of tests to make sure it gives results that you, and your doctor can trust.

  • Make sure you get it serviced  every 2 years: It needs to be regularly serviced and calibrated to make sure it is accurate – generally, at least once every two years. This usually involves sending it back to the manufacturer, who will probably charge a fee for this. If this option is too complicated or expensive it may be easier and cheaper to buy a new monitor.​

  • Number of users - if you want to track more than one person's blood pressure, you need to look carefully at the monitor display options, or if a blood pressure App can track more than one person's information?

  • Can it keep a history of recent results for you, and the rest of your family, either on the monitor screen, or in an App?

  • Blue Tooth - blue tooth can link your blood pressure monitor to your smartphone?

  • Smart Phone App Compatibility : do you want it to work with Apple Health, FitBit, Google Fit, Samsung Health, Withings?

  • Do you want your blood pressure monitor to also check for Arterial Fibrillation, and other problems?

  • Does the App it comes with provide good quality Advice and Guidance on how to use it, and what lifestyle changes to make?

  • Is it easy to read the display? 

Help choosing what you need

At Digital Health Coach we have spent some time trying to simplify the choices we suggest to you, and we have boiled things down to a few questions:

  1. Are you worried about money? Bear in mind these blood pressure monitors should be replaced, or re-calibrated every couple of years. If so, buy a basic monitor and use it with the free Omron Blood Pressure App [this can be used by anyone, with any kind of monitor]

  2. Do you want to track more than one person's blood pressure on the same SmartPhone?

  3. Do you value the convenience of a blue-tooth connected monitor, which will be more expensive, over the cheapness of using a manual monitor? If you do, the current Withings monitor has better reviews than the Omron monitor because:

    1. It has a more comfortable upper arm cuff, making it easier to use​

    2. It is compatible with Apple Health and Android phones

    3. It comes with the Withings HealthMate App, which can track multiple family members health

 

Check out the cost comparisons below, at the bottom of the page there are some video reviews of the different monitors, if you would like more information.

Blood Pressure Monitors Costs Compared

Video reviews comparing Blood Pressure Monitors

We have scoured the internet for informative reviews, so you can compare Blood Pressure Monitors in more detail. 

What are the advantages of a wearable Blood Pressure monitor?

Wearables cost between £200 and £400, and still need calibrating monthly, with a traditional blood pressure monitor, so what are the benefits of having one?

  1. A wearable can monitor your night-time blood pressure, nighttime blood pressure is the best indicator of your heart health, and best predictor of problems. 

  2. A wearable can give you daily feedback of when things are going well, or not so well, for example, if you have a cheeky Big Mac, it can tell you very quickly if this has affected your blood pressure, this way you can learn very quickly about what works for your blood pressure, and what doesn't. 

Wearables versus traditional Blood Pressure Monitors

  • A 'wearable' blood pressure monitor can be worn on the wrist, shines light into your body, and measures the waveform [shape] of your heartbeat. This is a fairly new technology. 

  • These can take blood pressure readings automatically throughout your day, for example, hourly.

  • Most on the market at the moment need re-calibrating every month with a 'traditional' blood pressure monitor. 

  • Blood pressure measurement is being added onto existing wearables by some SmartWatch manufacturers, including:

    • Apple - under development

    • Samsung - is live with BP monitoring in the Galaxy Watch3 or Galaxy Watch Active2, both have received CE approval -  watch the video

    • Fitbit - under development

  • Also, new wearables, measuring Blood Pressure only, are being released into the marketplace, the first being Aktiia - visit their website

  • Above all, do you really need hourly blood pressure readings, every day? This option may really just be for digital health geeks [like me].