Blood pressure monitors should be highly accurate and clinically validated.

When to measure your blood pressure at home

Home blood pressure monitoring may be especially useful for:

  • Anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • People starting high blood pressure treatment to determine its effectiveness.
  • People requiring closer monitoring, especially individuals with risk factors for high blood pressure and/or conditions related to high blood pressure.
  • Pregnant women, experiencing pregnancy-induced hypertension and/or preeclampsia.
  • Evaluating people with potentially false readings, such as:
    • People who only have high readings at the doctor’ s office (“white coat” hypertension).
    • People who only have high readings at home, but not at the doctor’ s office (“masked” hypertension).

Choosing a home blood pressure monitor

  • The American Heart Association recommends an automatic, cuff-style, upper-arm monitor. Wrist and finger monitors are not recommended because they provide less reliable readings.
  • Choose a clinically validated blood pressure monitor.
  • When selecting a blood pressure monitor for a senior person, pregnant woman or child, make sure it is validated for these conditions.
  • Make sure the cuff fits — measure around your upper arm and choose a monitor that comes with the correct size cuff.
  • Once you’ve purchased your monitor, take it to your next appointment with your healthcare practitioner. Have your doctor or nurse check to see that you are using it correctly and getting the same results as the equipment in the office.  Plan to bring your monitor in once a year to make sure the readings are accurate.

Clinical validation - what is it and what should you consider

Clinical validation confirms or verifies the measurement accuracy of the blood pressure monitor.  Testing is performed according to certain protocols with selected patients who meet certain criteria, including blood pressure classification, age, sex, and pre-existing conditions.

The larger the number of patients included in the validation study, the more statistically significant, or more reliable, the validation test is.

Not only should you consider a clinically validated blood pressure monitor, as basic validation is a standard requirement for all blood pressure monitors before being sold on the market, but you should also consider the extent it has been validated.  For example, was the blood pressure monitor clinically validated in diabetic patients, pregnancy, women with pre-eclampsia, children, elderly or people with end-stage renal disease?  Why is this important?

  • Patients with Diabetes Mellitus type 1 and 2 may have stiff arteries that can affect the blood pressure measurement.
  • Most oscillometric blood pressure monitors underestimate blood pressure in pre-eclampsia.
  • Patients with moderate to severe renal disease have a very high incidence of hypertension, paired with stiff (calcified) arteries that can affect the blood pressure measurement.
  • As children have a high respiration rate and have difficulties in sitting still, one needs a blood pressure monitor with a high-quality algorithm that can filter out these influences. In addition, a wide cuff range is needed that covers very small to large arm circumferences.

Another difference is the blood pressure monitor validations are the ranges examined.  The blood pressure ranges in which the blood pressure monitors are checked for measuring accuracy differ depending on the test protocol.  The broader the range is, the better the devices are checked to be reliable at extremely low or extremely high blood pressure.

Cuff sizes are also important.  Validations are generally performed with the standard cuff-size of the respective device model.  As there is a large increase of people who are overweight, validations of XL cuffs are becoming more important.

Microlife ensures that all blood pressure monitors are clinically validated for accuracy, through strict review processes from international institutes and societies in the field of blood pressure, such as European Society of Hypertension (ESH) or the British and Irish Hypertension Society (BIHS).  For more information on the clinical validation of the Microlife blood pressure monitors, please download this brochure.