Home Blood Pressure Monitors Unreliable By Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Mike Roizen, MDs Bill Murray's rumored to have said: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 350,000 times — you're a weatherman." That's a lack of accuracy we often joke about, but for some things, being that far off the mark is more disturbing. According to a recent Canadian study from the University of Alberta, home blood pressure monitors are 100 percent accurate only about 30 percent of the time. Special: Heart Surgeon's Secret to Healthy Blood Pressure
That's not good, the researchers point out, because high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the world.
In the small but revealing study of 85 people with high blood pressure, researchers identified what causes the problems with the readings.
Occasionally, it's a person's inability to run the device properly. It also can be the one-size-fits-all design; the same cuff is used for both men and women, but in the study men's readings were more accurate. Arm shape and size can make the difference.
Nonetheless, if you have high blood pressure, it's important to keep track of how it's doing.
So how can you check the accuracy of your device?
First, bring your at-home monitor with you to your next doctor's visit and check it against the doc's machine.
Second, have your pharmacist instruct you in proper usage, and then try it out right there and compare its reading to the pharmacy's in-store blood pressure monitor. Almost all pharmacies now have stations where you can check your blood pressure.