Blood Pressure, the word is known to everybody more or less but no one thinks that this little thing can make a huge difference in someone’s life when it becomes High Blood Pressure. About 40% of the people all over the world are suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension due to stress, workload or overthinking. The problem has no complete cure, all you do have is to keep it under control by regular monitoring and proper medication to avoid serious issues such as heart diseases, stroke and heart attack.
This article is for those who are planning to buy a blood pressure monitor and are confused whether to buy an Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor or a Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor. So let’s clear the confusion for once and for all.
Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor
It was found from various researches that the blood pressure measurements taken close to the heart are comparatively more accurate. There are two types of upper arm blood pressure monitors –
1) Aneroid Monitors
This is a usual blood pressure machine that you generally see in the doctor’s cabin. It has a cuff wrapped around the upper arm that is inflated by squeezing a bulb and a dial gauge that reads your blood pressure. These are very accurate, less expensive but not easy to use and can even get damaged easily.
2) Digital Monitors
These are the new models that work just on easy one tap. The cuff inflation is also controlled by the machine itself. The blood pressure readings appear on the LED screen along with the pulse rate. Digital monitors are also accurate, compact, easily portable and come in affordable prices.
Digital blood pressure monitors are made with advanced technologies such as Enhanced Intellisense Technology and MDI (Measurement During Inflation) technology. Most of the people are not comfortable in using the traditional aneroid monitors as they are complex in nature. Such people can easily use these digital upper arm blood pressure monitors.
Here are the best digital blood pressure monitors which are most popular among people.
Features like LED display, universal sized cuff (cuff circumference ranges from 22-42 cm), and advanced indicators such as AFib Indicator, Irregular Heartbeat Detection are available in most of the digital upper arm BP monitors. Also some models have multiple user settings in which two or more people can save their blood pressure readings with exact date and time which helps in better monitoring.
- Provides accurate reading
- Fully automatic and easy to use
- Some machines also have Talking Mode feature
- Can be used by Multiple users to store and track their BP readings
- Error reading during body movement
- Cuff size matters, especially for those having large biceps
Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors
This is the simplest and most compact form of blood pressure monitor with all the accessibilities as that of the upper arm BP monitor. Its compact design makes it more ideal for travel. Apart from all the good ones, the only thing that goes downside is that it is less accurate as it is far from heart level. But precise readings can be taken by keeping the wrist near the heart level.
Wrist Blood pressure machines provide a cuff that is more comfortable and are best suited for people with large biceps as they don’t have to worry about the cuff size. Also, it is ideal for people with arm/hand mobility limitations.
- Fully Automatic and easy to use
- Travel friendly
- Hassle free from wires
- Perfect for people with large biceps
- Can store measurements with date and time
- Less accurate as compared to upper arm bp machines
- Extremely sensitive to body position\
How Accurate are Wrist Blood Pressure Monitors?
The studies reveal that wrist blood pressure monitors are less accurate than upper arm blood pressure machines. Some wrist blood pressure machines can give accurate results if used exactly as directed in the user manual, i.e. by placing the arm and wrist at heart level as they are extremely sensitive to body position.
American Heart Association (AHA) recommends using an upper arm blood pressure monitor for home use. Accuracy of wrist blood pressure monitors solely depends on the difference in height between heart and the wrist.
The readings are generally higher and inaccurate when measured with a wrist blood pressure monitor as the wrist arteries are narrower and not as deep under your skin as compared to the upper arm. But for people having large biceps, wrist blood pressure monitors are great alternative.
It is better to take your wrist BP machine along while you are visiting your doctor to check the margin of error by noting the difference in the readings between the wrist monitor and the doctor’s aneroid monitor.
It is noticed that there is a difference of about ±5mmHg to ±10 mmHg between the readings of an upper arm blood pressure monitor and wrist blood pressure monitor.
It is clear that the wrist blood pressure monitor possesses all the qualities of the upper arm blood pressure monitor including exciting features and trending technologies and are much easier to use. They are easily portable and comfortable but the only drawback is the accuracy. I would recommend you to go with an arm blood pressure monitor if you don’t have large biceps.
Q1) Why are blood pressure readings taken on the upper arm different from readings taken on the wrist?
Ans) The blood pressure measurements taken from the wrist are generally higher and to some extent less accurate than readings taken from the upper arm as the arteries on the wrist are narrower and not as deep under the skin as compared with the upper arm area.
Q2) Why should older people and smokers take their measurements on the upper arm?
Ans) As we grow old, our blood vessels become narrower due to calcification, or harden due to arteriosclerosis. This affects the arteries present in the wrist in particular as they far away from the heart. Hence wrist devices may give inaccurate results in these cases. However, arteries in the upper arm are less sensitive to get influenced from these issues. So, older people and smokers should take their measurements on the upper arm area.