Accurate or Not? At-Home Cholesterol Tests and Blood Pressure Monitors


If you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure (or if you’re worried about having it), you may have been tempted by the many at-home vision or hearing, or if you have trouble with manual dexterity.

Automatic (or Digital) Blood Pressure Monitors

Powered by batteries, automatic blood pressure monitors have a cuff that is attached to your wrist or upper arm. An electronic monitor inflates and deflates the cuff, making this kind of device far easier to use than the manual ones. The monitor then displays your blood pressure. These blood pressure monitors generally cost between $40 and $100. Although they’re easier to use, they’re also sensitive and the readings can be influenced by your body position. Health professionals generally recommend having these devices adjusted at least once a year to make sure they’re still accurate.

Despite the problems with both kinds of blood pressure monitors, many doctors encourage their patients to use them, so that they can be aware of dangerous spikes in their blood pressure and take a more active role in their home care. But if you do decide to monitor your own blood pressure, remember:

  • To avoid fraud, buy monitors only from reputable pharmacies or medical supply stores and be sure they are FDA approved.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s directions to make sure you’re getting the most accurate readings.
  • Share the results with your doctor, so that they¬†can advise you on the next step.