Home blood pressure machines, are they all accurate?

High blood pressure can be a dangerous health issue and for awhile now, some people have had home machines that check their blood pressure. Are they worth the money? Local medical professionals say maybe but most don't think a machine should ever take the place of a regular doctor visit.

"These aren't (all) medical quality machines, they're made to use at home but they do have some good ones on the market so you can get a good one that's pretty accurate," says Angela Goodman, RN Care Coordinator for Memorial Health.

In terms of accuracy, a recent study from the American Journal of Hypertension says home devices can be inaccurate up to 70 percent of the time.

Goodman advises anyone who uses a home machine to use the right technique. "First you want the right sized cuff," she says. "A larger man would not use the same size as a smaller woman for example."

She says in checking blood pressure at home you want "snug fit around your arm, not too tight but not too loose."

Other suggestions include: never crossing your legs or feet, i.e.always having your feet flat on the floor, trying to sit stress free and quiet for up to ten minutes before checking your blood pressure and not consumer caffeine or nicotine at least 30 minutes before testing.

"We want to make sure they know how to take their blood pressure properly at home and how their equipment works," says Goodman.

In a quick price check online I found home testing machines selling for between $50 and $100. Goodman says she's not opposed to home testing, but again it must be done correctly. And she suggests actually bringing your machine with you to a doctor appointment. "We like our patients to bring their home equipment here to the office when they're coming for their check up and we can check their blood pressure with our equipment and check it with their equipment and see what that variance is so that way the patient will know about how much their equipment is off from ours," says Goodman.

She says knowing the variance is important because if a patient has a machine that may often register too low, the patient and doctor will want to be aware.

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