A blood pressure monitor is a machine that measures the pressure in an artery using a cuff fastened around the upper arm or wrist. Automatic blood pressure cuffs, which are the type used in our test, employ what's known as the oscillometric method. In simple terms, this method means that the cuff contains a small microphone, and when the cuff is inflated the blood supply is restricted. When the air is released again, the microphone perceives the first (systolic) and last (diastolic) heartbeat. The upper pressure, the systolic, is the pressure when the heart contracts to pump blood out into the body. The lower pressure, the diastolic, is the pressure when the heart relaxes and refills with blood. A home blood pressure monitor can be useful if you have had unusual pressure readings on several occasions at the doctor’s. The most common target group is often patients over middle age, but it isn’t unusual for many other people to want to have a good overview of their health. Being able to measure blood pressure at home is much easier and less time-consuming than regular visits to the health centre. If you have your own blood pressure monitor, it’s often possible to store previous measurements too, so that you can more easily compare and keep better track of how your blood pressure develops over time. Different models of blood pressure monitors can have different functions. However, they can all measure the lower and upper pressures and the user’s pulse
The difference between a cuff for the wrist and one for the upper arm is only a question of user-friendliness. Measurement is carried out in the same way, but for those who aren't used to the operation it’s much easier to attach a cuff correctly to the upper arm. Wrist cuffs have position sensors that means that they don’t inflate, or alternatively don’t give a little twitch if the cuff isn’t in the right place – which may sometimes be difficult to find. If you want to easily take your blood pressure monitor with you to work or on your travels, one with a wrist cuff is easier, as they are smaller and more discreet. It's essential that the cuff is positioned exactly where it should be for the reading to be correct, so if you aren’t confident, an upper arm model is preferable.
There are a few things you should think about before you buy a home blood pressure monitor. If you can, it’s sensible to try out the cuff on yourself or on the person who will use the monitor, to make sure it fits well. For very slim or large arms, it’s often more difficult to find a cuff that fits. Older people with fragile blood vessels can also find it rather painful to use a cuff that squeezes very tightly, or one that releases the air so slowly that the arm or wrist is under high pressure for a longer period. If your sight isn’t great, it’s also important that the screen is bright and clear.
The top tips of experienced nurses for successful measurement of blood pressure: always take the pressure at the same time of day, and relax for at least 5 and ideally 20 minutes before measuring. You should also always use the same arm for measuring. However, if you already know that you have an irregular pulse, you should always have your doctor measure your blood pressure.
We carry out our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. For our tests of blood pressure monitors, we enlisted the help of a registered nurse, who tested and evaluated the different models with her colleagues in a hospital ward in Stockholm. When they tested blood pressure monitors, they primarily looked at the following properties:
Functions: Does the machine have an option to save previous values and can the values be read in any way other than on the blood pressure monitor?
Target group focus: Is the screen easy to read even for someone who is older or who doesn't have perfect vision? Can the cuff be adapted to fit well on different types of body?
Ease of use: What does the blood pressure monitor require from the user in the form of understanding of buttons and the position the user must adopt? How does the cuff feel during use?
The nurses’ overall impression of the different blood pressure monitors was then compared to the product price to arrive at a score.
Omron’s M6 Comfort IT is a reliable, quality blood pressure monitor with a large, easy-to-read display, computer connection and excellent analysis functions. It automatically calculates weekly average values for morning and evening pressures, which can be compared to those for previous weeks. The IntelliSense inflation technology means that inflation takes place in a controlled manner without the need to reinflate or set the pressure in advance. A number of different sensors warn of anything disrupting the measurement, such as an irregular heart rhythm or body movements. The blood pressure monitor has a substantial, well constructed upper arm cuff, which also has a sensor to let you know if it's in the right place. You can find a good fit for both a normal sized and larger arm, which means that it's suitable for the majority of people who want to monitor their blood pressure.
The Beurer BM 57 BT is a stylish blood pressure monitor with an upper arm cuff, which has been successfully integrated with modern technology and has good levels of user-friendliness. Using the Health Manager app, in addition to the blood pressure monitor, you can also connect a scale, pulse oximeter, activity bracelet and glucose meter! The app is TÜV approved for data integrity. The blood pressure monitor has an LCD screen that’s backlit in white and has large, clear digits, making the screen easy-to-read. The last 60 measurement values can be saved and the machine gives a warning before the batteries need replacing. It also includes a nylon storage case.
The blood pressure cuff fits an upper arm with a circumference of 23-43 cm, which is more than many of its competitors. However, the hose could have been rather longer and the inflation process a little quicker for better user comfort. The fact that the blood pressure can also be checked through other units by straightforward transfer using Bluetooth makes things easier if a relative wants to help keep track of the user’s health. The Beurer BM 57 BT is a high quality blood pressure monitor that feels well worth its price.
The Beurer BM 45 is an upper arm blood pressure monitor with a cuff that’s clear and easy to attach, and which works well for different arm sizes. The blood pressure monitor has a large screen with white light, which makes it easy to read. User-friendliness is increased still further as the digits on the display are large and the single button makes it clear what to press to start the measurement process. The machine has an automatic shutoff function, saves an average value of the last week’s measurements and gives a clear indication of when the batteries will soon need replacing. The Beurer BM 45 also includes a storage case.
Just like many other blood pressure monitors, this model also feels like it releases the air rather slowly. It’s also rather noisy when it pumps up the pressure. However, quality and functions are good, and given the price class of the machine, the Beurer BM 45 is still very good value for money.
The Braun ExactFit 3 is a blood pressure monitor with many built-in functions. It’s adapted for use by two people and can save the last 40 measurements for both profiles. The machine is equipped with automatic shutoff and has a low battery indicator. It’s intelligently designed for use under different conditions in that two different cuffs are included. These are sizes S/M for an upper arm of 22-32 cm in circumference, and L/XL för 32-42 cm. The cuffs are soft and comfortable around the arm.
The Braun ExactFit 3 takes a long time to inflate to the right pressure, and it inflates tightly. Unlike many of its competitors, however, this machine quickly releases the air after the measurement is complete, which is good for the user experience. It includes instructions in 23 different languages and a nylon storage case. The Braun ExactFit 3 BP 6000 is well designed and very user-friendly.
The Medisana BU 510 is a very good value for money blood pressure monitor. The upper arm cuff works well for different types of arms and can be used on upper arms with a circumference of between 22 and 36 cm. The instructions are available in ten different languages, which makes the blood pressure monitor easy to understand. The display has large digits and is very clear. Medisana was the company that initially developed the stop light symbols on the side of the display, ranging from red to green, which are today present on many blood pressure monitors. This is a very useful function which makes it easier to see the pressure. However, for those sensitive to tight pressure around the arm it can feel like the cuff is being inflated to too high a pressure. The air release is also on the slow side, which means that the high pressure is retained for longer.
Despite its relatively low price, the Medisana BU 510 offers good functions. It has a memory for saving measurement values for two people, which is a big advantage if more than one person wants to use the monitor. The BU 510 includes a nylon storage bag, which is also useful if you're taking the monitor with you on a trip. Overall, the Medisana BU 510 offers a lot of blood pressure monitor for the money.
The König HC-BLDPRESS21 is an upper arm blood pressure monitor. The machine has a built-in memory for saving the last 60 measurements, so you can follow the development of your blood pressure. The case included is substantial, which is good if you want to be able to pack the monitor to take with you on trips. The machine is easy to switch on and off. The display is large and clear, and the measurement results are shown with easy-to-read digits. Your blood pressure is also illustrated on the display in colours and figures.
However, the König HC-BLDPRESS21 inflates tightly and isn’t so suitable for those who are very pressure sensitive. The air could also have been released more quickly. In design terms, this blood pressure monitor is easy to use but feels a bit plasticky. It gets plus points for the clear instructions in 12 different languages. Overall, the impression of the König HC-BLDPRESS21 is positive and the blood pressure monitor is good value for money.
Beurer’s BC 32 is a blood pressure monitor with a wrist cuff and the model has many basic similarities with the manufacturer’s blood pressure monitors for the upper arm. The machine can save measurement values for two different people and has a built-in automatic shutoff function. The wrist cuff is suitable for wrists with a circumference of 13.5-19.5 cm. The Beurer BC 32 is easy to use and has a clear display. The cuff is easy to put on your wrist and the machine doesn’t inflate more tightly than necessary. The noise level is also very pleasant.
Just as with all wrist monitors, it’s more difficult to get it correctly attached for reading the blood pressure, as the arm must be angled so that the wrist ends up in the right position. If you have worked out how to position your body, this is our choice of best in test for wrist monitors.
Omron’s RS6 blood pressure monitor is in the higher price class for a wrist monitor, and has been equipped with a number of intelligent functions. The display is large with clear digits and images, and the latter show things like whether the measurement is unreliable as a result of irregular pulse or the arm having moved too much during measurement. It includes a practical and substantial storage box. The machine has a memory capacity for saving the last 90 measurement results, and Intellisens technology for measuring the pressure during inflation.
The Omron RS6 is very quiet. However, the inflation is slightly longer than desirable. Nor was it always easy to get the cuff in the right position on the wrist or to hold the arm at the right angle. The Omron RS6 is a perfectly good blood pressure monitor with a number of useful qualities, but given the price we’d have preferred better user-friendliness in the actual cuff.
The Omron M7 Intelli IT is a high quality and advanced blood pressure monitor, which comes in a good storage case and with a clear manual. It also includes four AA batteries, which according to Omron should be sufficient for more than 1000 measurements. The product name's reference to intelligence relates to several of the blood pressure monitor's functions. The Omron M7 Intelli IT can be used with Omron's app, so that you can more easily see graphs, average values and other information taken from your measurements. But the blood pressure monitor cuff is also intelligent in that it adapts its inflation level to the user, to make the process as comfortable as possible. If you move during the measurement, a warning appears on the screen that this can lead to incorrect values. The monitor also warns you if you have an irregular pulse.
The details of the M7 Intelli IT feel well designed. The tube between the measurement station and the cuff is exactly the right length for the measurement process to be straightforward. And the cuff is of very high quality. It's hard and round and automatically sits correctly on the arm, which makes it easier to achieve a correct value. The disadvantage of this type of cuff, is of course, that it works best on upper arms of a particular size. The manufacturer states that it's intended for an upper arm with a circumference between 22 and 42 cm. The measurement station has large, clear figures and it's easy to change between the memories for the two different people that can be saved. There's also a guest mode. The only improvement we'd have liked is a backlit screen as it's currently difficult to see in a dark room. The Omron M7 Intelli IT is a relatively expensive blood pressure monitor for private use, but other than a couple of small minus points it's enormously impressive and definitely feels worth the price.
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