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How accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors

How Accurate Are Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors? 8 Models Examined

If you measure blood pressure at home, then you must be asking, how accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors? Blood pressure monitor is one of the most important health gadgets at home: If the blood pressure is too high or too low, it can lead to severe illnesses. People who are known to have a problem with blood pressure should take regular blood pressure measurements.

Many of us own a blood pressure monitor to take measures ourselves instead of going to the doctor for it. In order for the values ​​to be reliable, blood pressure monitors must be accurate. But how accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors?

In this article, you will receive information about how accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors, and we will explain to you what is generally essential when buying a blood pressure monitor. Finally, you will learn everything you need to know about measuring blood pressure yourself, including tips on how to estimate how accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors.

Systolic and diastolic blood pressure: Which one is more important?

If you measure the blood pressure, two values ​​are determined: systolic and diastolic blood pressure, this shows how accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors. This is the highest and lowest pressure at which blood is transported through the veins when the heart pumps. This usually doesn’t depend on how accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors.

When the left ventricle contracts, it presses the blood it contains into the main artery. As a result, the blood pressure in the vessels rises sharply. This peak is the systolic blood pressure. Then the heart chamber relaxes again, and the blood pressure drops. This low value is the diastolic blood pressure.

While the systolic blood pressure indicates the peak load on the vessels, the diastolic blood pressure measures the permanent load, so to speak. If someone says that they have a blood pressure of, for example, 120 to 80, this means that the pressure in the vessels is a maximum of 120 and at least 80 – measured in “mmHg,” which stands for “millimeters of mercury”.

The unit goes back to ancient times when mercury-based barometers were used for measurements. Nowadays, the unit is also called “Torr”.

You cannot generally say that one of the two blood pressure values is “more important” and this doesn’t indicate how accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors. Both values should always be considered together because their relationship to one another can indicate different causes of illness and require different therapies.

Upper arm or wrist? How accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors

There is now a large selection of measuring devices that you can use to monitor your blood pressure yourself. But which model is right for you? A basic distinction is made between devices for the upper arm and for the wrist. The somewhat more cumbersome upper arm variant is equipped with a separate cuff.

In contrast, the compact wrist models have the cuff already integrated. It is essential that the cuff fits your wrist or upper arm circumference. Cuffs that are too large can falsify the result.

Devices for the wrist are relatively small, more convenient to use, and usually significantly cheaper in price. In order to avoid measurement errors, the measurement should be made at heart level, and this cannot always be accurately determined.

A problem systematically resolves itself with devices for the upper arm: you are automatically in the right place. What speaks in favor of the wrist blood pressure monitors is that, given their weight and smaller size, they are significantly more mobile – and are therefore also suitable for traveling and more extended absences.

Good wrist devices now measure just as reliably as blood pressure monitors for the upper arm. Models for the wrist are a bit easier and more convenient to use, but they are usually also more prone to failure during measurement.

How accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors with BlueTooth?

More and more blood pressure monitors offer a Bluetooth connection to the smartphone. This is actually a good idea because blood pressure readings can be saved on the mobile phone, and the progression of the readings can be graphically displayed over a longer period of time. But unfortunately, there is often a lack of implementation.

Connecting the blood pressure monitors to the manufacturer’s apps is often cumbersome or does not work reliably. Most importantly, not every blood pressure monitor in the test automatically saves the measured data in the background.

In the best case, the measured values ​​are transferred later when you open the app on the smartphone, but the app often has to be open during the measurement process, and in some cases, you even have to initiate the transfer manually.

This is far too complicated in everyday life and therefore cannot be used meaningfully, if you consider how accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors.

It is incomprehensible why the devices do not independently establish a connection to the smartphone after each measurement and transfer the data in the background without having to open the smartphone and activate the respective app.

At least there is improvement in the meantime: Some blood pressure monitor manufacturers use the function not only as a pure data storage facility but also offer more extensive functions, such as transmitting the measured values ​​to a doctor.

You should pay attention to how accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors

Once you have decided on a device class, there are a few important points to consider:

The fit of the cuff: the cuff of the blood pressure monitor must fit around your wrist or your upper arm. If it does not do this, the measurement is incorrect. The manufacturers usually specify the minimum and maximum circumference of the cuff. In some cases, there are special sizes, for example for particularly thin wrists, or devices with two cuffs in different sizes. In any case, you should measure beforehand or test the device first.

An easy-to-read display: some blood pressure monitors only show the measurement result and leave the assessment to the user. This is often sufficient, especially if you take the blood pressure measurement on your doctor’s advice. However, devices that use a simple color code (red, yellow, green) to classify the measured values ​​from “good to bad” on the display are helpful.

The memory for the measurement results: The internal memory can usually store at least 30 measurement results, but with intensive use, you may need more space, 90 and more single carriers are ideal here. If several users use the same device for measurement, two separate memories are an advantage, which is also offered by many blood pressure monitors. In addition, average or mean values ​​can be formed from several results, depending on how accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors.

The battery life: Most blood pressure monitors are operated with replaceable AA or AAA batteries or corresponding rechargeable batteries. Longer battery life can be useful, especially if you want to measure your blood pressure regularly on the go. However, manufacturers rarely provide such information. Stiftung Warentest has partially tested the running time and it varies greatly from device to device. If you use the blood pressure monitor intensively, you should always have spare batteries ready in case of doubt.

“Smart” functions and data protection: Blood pressure measurement results are sensitive medical data. If these are only saved in the device, this is relatively unproblematic. Occasionally, blood pressure monitors are now “networked” and offer data transfer of the results to suitable smartphone or tablet apps.

Users should be careful here: it is not always clear what happens to the data and where it is stored. The added value is not that great anyway. You can also tell your doctor more easily about the measurement result, depending on how accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors.

The best wrist blood pressure monitors

If you are often out and about or if you measure your blood pressure several times a day, a device for your wrist is ideal, because it is ready for use within a few seconds.

How accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors? This depends on proper posture. Although both types require that the blood pressure be measured at heart level, this happens automatically with upper arm measuring devices due to the position of the cuff, while models for measuring the wrist require the arm to be angled and held in order to provide correct measurement results.

Brief overview: Our recommendations:

Sanitas SBC 22
The Sanitas delivers a good overall package: very precise measurements, simple operation, and an affordable price.

Boso Medistar +
The Boso Medistar + is compact, well made, and delivers very accurate measurement results.

Medisana BW 315
The Medisana BW 315 measures consistently precisely and displays the measured values in very large digits.

Hylogy MD-H21 
The Hylogy MD-H21 is not particularly well made, but it also measures very precisely.

ADE BPM 1600
The BMP can be made flat like no other model in the test, and its display and measuring accuracy are convincing.

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The best upper arm blood pressure monitors

The measurement accuracy of blood pressure monitors with an upper arm cuff is significantly higher than that of wrist models. Since they are not significantly more expensive, they are therefore generally the better choice. The only drawback: it is not that easy to put on the cuff.

But a cuff for the upper arm is also easy to put on, especially if you are only wearing a T-shirt. If you are wearing a shirt or blouse, you have to unbutton the sleeve and push it up, because the cuff has to be right on the skin.

We also tested 32 models of the upper arm measuring devices. Unfortunately, there are also models here that do not provide good readings. But at least half of them, namely eight devices, provided very precise measurement results.

Medisana BU 530 Connect 
The Medisana BU 530 Connect measures very precisely, has Bluetooth, and does not cost much.

Omron X3 Comfort 
The Omron X3 Comfort convinces with good workmanship, high measuring accuracy, and easy user change.

Withings BPM Connect
If you value digital connectivity, the Withings BPM Connect is the right choice: It offers Bluetooth, WiFi, and a sophisticated app.

Omron Evolv
Chic, stylish and precise: If you are willing to pay the price, the Omron Evolv is an all-around great and very pretty blood pressure monitor.

Sanitas SBM 18
Many functions and very good measurement accuracy at a low price.

How do you measure your blood pressure correctly?

You should measure your blood pressure when you are at rest. If you are sufficiently relaxed, place the cuff of the blood pressure monitor on your wrist or upper arm comfortably – not too loose and not too tight.

In terms of size, however, it must be right in any case, otherwise, there will be measurement errors. The cuff must be at heart level when taking the measurement. If you use an upper arm blood pressure monitor, this happens automatically; for wrist devices, you have to determine the position yourself.

You should also keep your arms and legs still and not speak during the measurement itself. If everything went well, save the measurement result in the device or write it down in some other way – and repeat the measurement regularly. It is best to report any irregularities to your doctor immediately.

When should you measure your blood pressure?

The blood pressure is different at different times of the day. It is usually highest after sleep, i.e. in the morning and sometimes also after a nap. If there is an increased medical risk, you should check your morning blood pressure after consulting your doctor.

However, if you are only interested in a general check of your blood pressure, you should measure it daily at different times and determine an average value.

how accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors
How accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors?

What is normal or high blood pressure?

According to medical guidelines, a blood pressure of 120 to 129 mmHg (systolic) and 80 to 84 mmHg (diastolic) is considered normal, and blood pressure of below 120 and below 80 is considered optimal. The unit mmHg stands for “millimeters of mercury”, based on a mercury blood pressure monitor.

A blood pressure of 130 to 139 (systolic) and 85 to 89 (diastolic) is “highly normal”. All values above are considered hypertension, i.e., high blood pressure.

There are different classifications of the danger levels. The World Health Organization WHO sees blood pressure of 140-159 (sys) and 90-99 (dia) as mild hypertension, 160-179 (sys), and 100-109 (dia) as medium hypertension and values above 180 (sys) and 110 (dia) as severe hypertension.

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Upper arm or wrist – which blood pressure monitors are better?

On average, blood pressure monitors for the upper arm are more accurate than models for the wrist, but it also depends on the device. Wrist models have the advantage that they are smaller and are therefore better suited for on the go, but always leave questions how accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors.

How do you use a wrist blood pressure monitor?

The blood pressure is always measured at the level of the heart. With blood pressure monitors for the upper arm, the correct position of the cuff is particularly important: it should sit just above the crook of the arm and only be so tight that one or two fingers can still fit between the cuff and the arm. The mark on the cuff should also be over the artery. The wrist’s device should also be held at heart level, with the palm facing the user.

What is systolic and diastolic blood pressure?

With every beat, the heart pumps blood through the body, and the heart muscle contracts and relaxes again. The systolic blood pressure is the higher value and describes the peak load on the blood vessels that occurs when the heart contracts. When you relax, the pressure drops again; the lowest measured value describes the diastolic pressure, i.e., the constant stress on the blood vessels.

What is the normal blood pressure value?

According to medical guidelines, a blood pressure of 120 to 129 mmHg (systolic) and 80 to 84 mmHg (diastolic) is considered normal, a blood pressure below 120/80 is considered optimal. According to the WHO, the blood pressure is mild from 140/90 and moderate hypertension from 160/100. 180/110 is severe hypertension.

Why is high blood pressure dangerous?

Excessive blood pressure puts the blood vessels under a load for which they were not designed. It damages them in the long term and can also affect organs. In the worst case, high blood pressure can lead to a stroke.

What does arrhythmia mean?

Arrhythmias are irregular heartbeats. As the name suggests, these are heartbeats that occur outside of the normal rhythm or in the absence of a heartbeat. Possible causes include consuming substances such as alcohol and caffeine, infections, and dangerous heart diseases. Make sure to consult a doctor if you have arrhythmia!

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