Read the latest HealthWatch newsletter:  Newsletter 116, Summer 2021

How accurate is the wrist style blood pressure cuff folks tend to buy from the chemist/online? – a lay summary

There is some early evidence that high blood pressure may be linked to poorer outcomes in those hospitalized with the most severe effects of COVID-19 infection. Wrist blood pressure monitors are cheap, easy to use and readily available online and from pharmacies. But do they give you an accurate reading?

  •  The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) says that wrist blood pressure monitors are likely to provide reasonably accurate home blood pressure assessment in most people.
  • Oxford CEBM reviewed the best available evidence and found only one clinical trial specific to wrist devices. It found the devices were able to correctly categorize users’ blood pressure as being either high, or within the normal range, in about 4 out of 5 cases. Devices with a position sensor were slightly more accurate – reading correctly in 5 out of 6 cases.
  • International guidelines generally recommend that for the most accurate readings, blood pressure should be measured at the upper arm, especially in patients with obesity and high blood pressure. There is as yet no specific evidence available on the use of home blood pressure monitoring in patients with COVID-19 or other acute respiratory illness.

Mandy Payne, 27 March 2020

This is a lay summary of a report repared for the Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service of the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford by Uy Hoang and posted on 23rd March 2020.

Disclaimer: the article has not been peer-reviewed; it should not replace individual clinical judgement and the sources cited in the original report should be checked. The views expressed in this commentary represent an interpretation by HealthWatch and do not necessarily represent those of Oxford CEBM, the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care. The views are not a substitute for professional medical advice.


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