Can I have a nurse's or doctors opinion about blood pressure monitors?

I went with my mom to the doc the other day and he said she has moderately high blood pressure e.g. 140/90. Of course he wanted to give her a drug right away, but she wanted to try modifying her diet and increasing her exercise. She asked him about buying one of those blood pressure monitors and he started wagging his head and saying No, no, no. They aren’t accurate; they are no good at all. So, is this just his personal opinion, or is there one she can buy that would be fairly accurate? She’s 82 and pretty stubborn about this. But I don’t want her to waste her money. And I don’t want her to pay for some expensive monitor like they have at the clinic. You see these at the pharmacy all the time. are they really that inaccurate?

My husband is a nurse who also wanted to monitor his own blood pressure. (Hypertension runs in his family.) When we were looking at monitors, he rejected several as being inaccurate, though I can’t remember why. The one he got was the Omron wrist blood pressure monitor with A.P.S for about $80. It’s one that goes at the wrist. IIRC, I get the same reading on it that I do at the doctor’s office.

When he wakes up, I’ll ask him specifically why he got this one.

I asked my doctor about this and she said to bring it in and they can calibrate it to theirs. Also, fresh batteries are essential.

Yeah you really need to get a good one. I’ve had a few that simply wouldn’t calibrate to the doctor’s office and finally gave up. I’ll have to look at the omron one!

Thanks skeptic. I’d really be interested to know what your husband says.

See Consumer Reports June 2003.
Top rated: Omron HEM-711AC $80
Omron HEM0712C $70
ReliOn HEM-741CREL $50 - best buy (Wall Mart)
In general, the wrist/automatic types were less accurate than the arm ones in the ratings.

Perhaps as important as accuracy is consistency in usage – check your resting BP on both arms, at the same time of day. Resting means fairly relaxed, not keyed up at all. If something disturbs your routine, you may need to rest more before checking the BP.

Follow the device’s directions closely – the wrist device must be held at heart level. If you are really concerned about accuracy, go to any hospital and ask for the Clinical Engineering or Biomedical Repair shop. These guys have the proper test equipment and tools to check and adjust just about anything.

I didn’t think about consumer reports. Thanks jdc.

If you are up to learning how to use a manual one, it isn’t difficult and would not give her doctor a reason to moan about self-monitoring.

Good on your mom for wanting to make lifestyle changes rather than immediately jump to the drugs - which can be hard to get used to (especially at her age or if she is on any other medications).

Well, we went to Wal-Mart and got the ReliOn HEM-741CREL. The only thing is, I put it on her arm according to the directions but it got a different reading several times in a row. Plus, the diastolic reading is lower than at the dr’s office. I’m going to bring it in to the hospital and see if they can calibrate it to match the mercury monitor they have. It has her diastolic hovering around 77-85 and the systolic 127-141. I have to say I’m disappointed that it varies so much. I think after the hospital visit I’m going to just take it the same time every day and try to make sure she’s resting 5 minutes ahead of time and doesn’t talk etc.