High blood pressure is one of the worst medical problems in the U.S. and it affects nearly half of all adults in the country. It’s not that high blood pressure, or hypertension, in of itself leads to death. However, having high blood pressure puts you at risk for so many other medical conditions and diseases, including heart disease and stroke. And those are the leading causes of death in the United States. Therefore, having high blood pressure can be very dangerous and if you fall into that category it’s something you need to take seriously.
How Many People have High Blood Pressure?
As of June 2016, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about 75 million Americans had hypertension. That represents 32 percent of all adults in the entire country. The CDC also estimated that another third of American adults had prehypertension, which means they have higher than normal blood pressure but not quite elevated enough to qualify for the “high” range. However, before you think you’re safe because you’re in the prehypertension category, listen to this. The American Heart Association (AHA) just announced some alarming news regarding what constitutes high blood pressure. And chances are, it affects you.
New High Blood Pressure Numbers
The AHA has announced a change in its blood pressure guidelines. The standard for determining hypertension for many decades has been a top number of at least 140 or a bottom number of 90 or more. However, the AHA has now lowered those numbers to 130 over 80. That means, nearly half of all adults in America now have high blood pressure. In fact, because of the change, another 30 million people in the country have high blood pressure, which represents an additional 14 percent of all U.S. adults. The numbers are staggering. Here are the new guidelines, according to the AHA, that make up the new categories, with the "prehypertension," category now completely eliminated:
Normal: Under 120 over 80
Elevated: Top number 120-129 and bottom number less than 80
Stage 1: Top of 130-139 or bottom of 80-89
Stage 2: Top at least 140 or bottom at least 90
With the announcement, the AHA and the medical groups that advise it encouraged people with hypertension to live a healthier lifestyle. That includes eating healthier and exercising more. Healthier living is a good idea for everyone. However, for many people with hypertension, it’s not enough.
Monitoring Is Vital
So besides living a healthier lifestyle, there are some other things to consider if you now fall into the high blood pressure category. Because high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke, you need to constantly be aware of your numbers. The consequences can be fatal if you’re not prepared. Therefore, it’s a very good idea to regularly check your blood pressure, if you have hypertension, and perhaps even if you don’t.
How and When to Check it
The AHA recommends having your blood pressure checked at least once a year by a health professional. In order to truly diagnose hypertension, you need to have two or three readings on at least two occasions. The most common way to check blood pressure is to momentarily block the blood flow in an artery in the upper arm by placing a cuff on the arm and then to gradually release it while listening with a stethoscope. You then count the sounds the blood makes as it flows through the artery. However, even though many medical offices still use this method, it’s not always accurate. Because of that, many places are moving towards using automated devices.
Self Monitor With a Portable Device
Although the AHA’s guidelines don't pick one method over another, they do recommend measuring pressure in the upper arm. One way to stay on top of your blood pressure regularly is by purchasing a home or portable monitoring device, which cost as little as $25, and as much as $200. Portable blood pressure monitors make it easy for you to check your blood pressure at home, or on the go. In fact, they really allow you to check your numbers anytime and anywhere. That can make a huge difference in helping you fight heart disease, stroke and other medical conditions caused by high blood pressure. They can also alert you if you have a sudden spike in blood pressure that could contribute to a life-threatening event.
The Top Blood Pressure Monitors and Apps
The good news is there are dozens of portable heart rate monitors available on the market that can help you keep track of your numbers. In addition, there are several smartphone apps that help you track your numbers. Furthermore, many of the newest portable blood pressure monitors work in conjunction with your smartphone to offer better results and analysis. Let’s take a look at some of the best options in both monitors and apps that can help you track your numbers. This will help give you a baseline, set some goals, and start making changes to get your numbers lower.
Omron 10 Series Wireless Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor With Cuff
This portable blood pressure monitor is part of the popular Omron 10 Series. It’s a wireless Bluetooth monitor that allows you to track and manage up to 100 readings on the actual monitor and as many as you want on your smartphone. That means you can track and manage unlimited readings with the free app available for both Android and iOS. It also features an easy to read screen, with multi-colored indicator lights, a feature you won’t find on many other portable readers. The upper arm cuff goes on easy and fits arms from 9-inches to 17-inches. This monitor also automatically displays the average of your last three readings, and it even detects irregular heartbeats. Coming in at about $65, this is a mid-range monitor that will always keep you on top of your blood pressure. You really can’t go wrong with any of the Omron 10 series monitors.
Care Touch Fully Automated Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor – You won’t find too many blood pressure monitors with as many features for the price as this model from Care Touch. It features a large backlit display that makes it easy to read whether it’s dark or light. It’s also quick, with results coming in less than 60 seconds. You can track your heart, as well with this monitor, and it will detect and notify any irregularity in your heartbeat. It doesn’t store as many readings as the Omron, but with 60 readings available at the touch of a button it offers ample storage space. Plus, at less than $25, this monitor won’t set your budget back, either. The Care Touch is designed to work on your wrist and not the upper arm, and it fits any wrist size between 5.5-inches and 8.5-inches.
Balance Bluetooth Blood Pressure Monitor Cuff
Another great portable monitor that offers smartphone compatibility is the Balance Bluetooth Blood Pressure Monitor Cuff. This Bluetooth-enabled monitor offers excellent accuracy no matter where you decide to take your blood pressure. Plus, when you take a reading the monitor will automatically send it to your Balance Health app (iOS and Android) every time you open the app. There you can check and compare your latest reading with your overall history. This can alert you to any drastic changes to your blood pressure reading in real time. This monitor comes with a handy carrying case that holds the monitor, the arm cuff, and the AC adapter. It also comes with four batteries so you can use it on the go, no matter where you want to get a reading. The cuff fits any arm size from 8 ¾-inches to 16 ½-inches. It also offers the convenience of storing up to 60 readings for two separate users simultaneously.
QardioArm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor
At around $90-$95, this system is on the high end when it comes to price. However, if you have a little extra to spend you get your money’s worth with the QardioArm. It’s easy to set up and the QardioArm has been clinically validated. It’s accurate and it features the convenience of multiple user capabilities. It even comes in four different colors to match your personal style: blue, gold, red, and white. It’s compact; it fits upper arms with a circumference between 8.7-inches and 14.6-inches. Plus, like several other portable devices on the market today, this also connects wirelessly to your phone, tablet or even a smartwatch. You can also upload, store, and share the data you collect from your readings with family members and your doctor, as this product is compatible with other Qardio products. Users also enjoy the “triple measurement averaging” feature, as well as the reminders it provides. Lastly, it measures systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels and checks for irregular heartbeats.
Welch Allyn Home 1700 Blood Pressure Monitor with SureBP Patented Technology and Simple Smartphone Connectivity
This is another higher-end model, but it has a lot to offer. For starters, it comes equipped with the same SureBP technology that hospitals and doctors use all over the world. And of course, it offers accurate readings with a single-button operation. It takes just 20 seconds to get a reading, without overinflating and causing discomfort to your arm. You can get the most out of this monitor when you pair it with the Welch Allyn Home smartphone app. With the app, you can track and save your results, and even share them with your doctor or your family members. It offers 97 percent accuracy and a large size range of 8.75-inches up to 16.5-inches. You can plug it into the wall or take it with you on the go with four AA batteries. With a list price of $120, it is more expensive than most, but you get the reliability of the Welch Allyn brand.
iHealth Feel Wireless Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor
This monitor checks in with a starting price of about $70 for the standard cuff size, while the extra large cuff costs about $80. iHealth features several portable monitor options for both the cuff and the wrist. This blood pressure monitor has been clinically tested and validated by the BHS for accuracy. It’s FDA approved and it works just like the monitors your doctors use. However, it connects wirelessly to your smartphone and interacts with the iHealth App. You can store the data from your readings and you can keep that data safe. So, only you and those you want to have access to it can see your information. It also comes with a travel bag, a USB charging cable, features Bluetooth connectivity, and stores 200 offline readings. This monitor helps you see and understand the complete picture of your health.
A&D Medical Blood Pressure Monitor
A&D Medical offers several blood pressure monitors and accessories for both the upper arm and wrist. The basic model starts at $40 with the highest end model checking in at $200. The basic model offers speed and accuracy at the touch of a button, with easy to read numbers and irregular heartbeat indicator. The top of the line premium blood pressure monitor features wireless technology and stores up to 200 readings. It also offers long-range Bluetooth that ensures reliability and accuracy. This is the top choice for those patients that have remote monitoring programs. A&D offers several other monitors in between the basic and the premium models.
Eocene Health Wireless Bluetooth Blood Pressure Monitor
The Eocene arm blood pressure monitor is designed to make blood pressure monitoring easier, which makes keeping track of your overall health easier. This monitor tracks and saves your readings, which allows you to easily analyze and manage your readings without keeping a logbook. The Eocene monitor wirelessly transfers all your readings to a HIPAA secure health cloud using the latest Bluetooth Health Device Protocol. Your healthcare provider can then analyze and monitor your readings and take action if necessary. The readings will also send an alert to you or anyone else you’ve authorized to receive one if an episodic or acute event occurs. You can track and manage your readings on your smartphone or tablet, either Android or iOS. For $80, purchase this monitor and start safely tracking, managing, and analyzing your blood pressure as part of your overall health.
1byone Upper Arm Digital Blood Pressure Monitor
At $25 the 1byone blood pressure monitor system is one of the most affordable options on our list, but it still offers excellent features. For starters, it provides quick delivery of important information and it measures both systolic and diastolic readings within seconds. If you have any irregularities in your reading or in your heartbeat the 1byone will alert you to the abnormalities. It also allows two users to read and save up to 60 measurements each in order to analyze your overall reading history. The 1byone also features large, easy to read numbers with a backlit LCD display. It works with a push of a button and the cuff will fit arms of almost all sizes. You can plug it into the wall with the included AC adapter or take it with you wherever you go using four AAA batteries. For only $25 this monitor offers just about every feature you need to track and monitor your blood pressure regularly and accurately.
Blood Pressure Companion
If you’re looking for a smartphone app to help with monitoring your blood pressure, the Blood Pressure Companion app available on iOS not only allows you to track your blood pressure but also your heart rate and your weight. With a clean interface to visually monitor your blood pressure with a log, chart, and histogram, you can easily track both your diastolic and systolic readings. The app will calculate the mean arterial pressure and you can also create reminders that will help you remember to measure your pressure, as well as your doctors appointments. If your reading ever comes back abnormal then you can quickly determine what could be causing it and then take the necessary action to bring it down, or seek medical attention. Of course, you can also share your readings with your doctor each time you go for a checkup. You can keep your info extra safe on your device by enabling an extra passcode function within the app in order to protect your data.
Blood Pressure & Heat Tune-Up by Heart Habit
The Heart Habit app is an easy and effective way to keep track of and analyze your blood pressure, as well as your risks for high blood pressure. It also helps you analyze your risks for heart attack, and stroke, especially if you’ve already had one of these events. This app is perfect for managing your future risks for stroke or heart attack, as well. Physicians, dieticians, and pharmacists from several major universities, including Stanford, together with Kaiser Permanente, collaborated to develop this app. Heart Habit will also send your personal information and responses to any blood pressure changes. It even gives you the ability to contact a medical professional if you need more attention or support. The Heart Habit app is designed to help users achieve healthy blood pressure, and of course, a healthy heart. Combined with informative content, personal insight, and important recommendations associated with your lifestyle choices, this app can be a helpful way to improve your overall health.
Track Your Numbers
As you can see, you have a lot of choices in several different price ranges. However, it’s not so much about which option you choose, but more importantly that you monitor your blood pressure regularly. Having a portable blood pressure monitor to constantly keep an eye on your numbers is vital. It’s also a good idea to make the necessary changes to your lifestyle that will help bring your numbers down. If you have high blood pressure then owning a portable monitor and/or a smartphone-enabled monitor helps you take control of your health. Don’t let high blood pressure overcome you. Be aware and alert, take charge of your health, and choose to make a healthy change. Lower numbers ARE possible and a portable monitor is a great tool to help you get there.