The Best Blood Pressure Monitor of 2020
The Omron Platinum is the most accurate monitor we tested. No readings were 10 mmHg or more off (a degree of inaccuracy that could move you from one blood pressure classification group to another). The cuff is comfortable and a cinch to position correctly, thanks to a simple diagram on the outside. The large screen makes it easy to read and shows your current reading on the right while letting you scroll through past readings on the left. You can switch between users with a slide button and find out your morning reading average with the touch of another. Though the Omron Connect app (Android and iOS-friendly) is a little less user-friendly than others, it does chart your readings and makes it easy to email them to your doctor.
The Platinum is the largest unit tested, and there is a slight learning curve, like figuring how to take one reading or three in a row, but this device is intuitive overall. One of the few complications is that, if you have a systolic pressure above 210 mmHg, you'll need to hold the start button down until it inflates 30 or 40 mmHg higher than your expected reading. And you do have to take the extra step of transferring your data to the Omron app, while more tech-forward models send the readings over automatically. Still, it's reasonably straightforward, accurate, and provides the convenience of emailing your readings to your doctor. This is the best blood pressure monitor for multiple users who can easily afford it.
The compact and user-friendly Balance Greater Goods Cuff Kit is one of our favorites. Taking a measurement is straightforward, and it's one of the most accurate monitors in the review according to our tests. The cuff is comfortable and features a clear graphic and artery guideline to help you place it properly. Many of the monitors we tested require complex button combinations to access functions. The Balance uses its three buttons to great effect. You can easily switch between two users, ready your blood pressure and heart rate, and see an interpretation of your hypertensive risk. There is very little guesswork or need to consult the user manual.
This cuff measures your diastolic pressure on the way up instead of on the way down. So the cuff is slow to inflate, which annoyed some users. That means it's quick to deflate, though. The screen scratches easily, and the monitor only holds 60 readings for each user. You can manually enter readings into the Balance Health app (Android and iOS-friendly) and download them to track them long term or share them with your doctor. Overall, this is a fantastically functional option. It's not the least expensive, but you get a streamlined, accurate, and pleasantly straightforward monitor in exchange.
We like how quickly the Omron Bronze takes readings, how easy they are to see and how quiet it is. It has the same well-constructed inflatable cuff as the Platinum and only two buttons, leaving little room for confusion. Simply hit start to take a reading or the memory button to look at the last 14. Like most monitors, it detects irregular heartbeats and movement during a reading (which will invalidate the reading).
Unlike most, it doesn't combine and average past measurements to give you a representative idea of what your blood pressure is over time. Since your blood pressure fluctuates constantly, no one reading means much. You need many to understand what is going on over time. Since the Omron Bronze has such limited memory and no Bluetooth function to transfer data, you'll need to manually record your readings in the Omron app or a spreadsheet to share with your doctor. We like that the Bronze provides simple accuracy at a reasonable price.
The Alcédo Blood Pressure Monitor performed well in our accuracy tests and is one of two monitors we tested that talks to you. It's quite nice to have a voice guiding you through the process, and it's great to have your blood pressure and heart rate read to you at the end. It also lets you know if your reading is normal or elevated based on World Health Organization standards. A self-checking cuff makes sure you've velcroed it in the right place, and movement detection reminds you to keep still. The cuff is curved to accommodate your arm and clearly marks the point to align with your artery.
This great little monitor is a pleasure to use and has a good amount of memory. It also speaks, giving you instructions and your reading. Unfortunately, unless you mute the helpful voice, it also plays awful elevator music while it inflates and makes it tricky to switch between users. It's also limited to 120 readings, and there is no app to download them to for safekeeping. Another downside is that switching between users is not intuitive. We prefer the models that have a dedicated button for that purpose. This unit works well and is very affordable, making it an excellent option for the visually impaired who need the voice function and can deal with the painful soundtrack.
The QardioArm Wireless Monitor turns on automatically when you unwrap its cuff. The wireless system is straightforward to pull on your arm, but you need to check the manual to learn how to align it. You also need to download the Qardio app (Android and iOS-friendly) and turn it on to take a measurement. There are no directions, buttons, or read-outs on the monitor itself. The app is intuitive, letting you adjust how many measurements you want to take at each sitting (1 to 3) and how many seconds (up to 60) you want between each (it averages multiple measurements for you). It's easy to share your readings with your doctor or friends and family via the app. We like that you can set reminders and create a relaxing slideshow to watch during a reading, and we're pleased with its accuracy during testing.
The cuff is small. Since it's integrated into the device, that limits whose arm it will fit. It's also loud. When inflating, it sounds like a motorcycle that needs to shift gears, which is not calming. The app georeferences each reading, not a comforting reminder that that information we connect to the internet is hard to protect. Qardio claims that its data cloud is HIPAA compliant, though. What we struggle with is the app requirement. What if you need to take your blood pressure daily but lose your phone? We like that you can at least get a measurement directly on the similar Withings BPM Connect, but this model was more accurate in our tests, so it is the one we recommend for travel or techy folk.
The ParaMed Automatic Accurate Upper Arm Machine is the same base unit as the Alcédo with a slightly different button configuration and cuff. They performed similarly in our tests and feature the same voice and the same cringe-worthy soundtrack when in talk mode. We wish we could remove the music without losing the voice assistance.
The Alcédo ever-so-slightly outperformed the Paramed. We recommend the Alcédo because its curved cuff is more comfortable, and the hook and loop closure seems more durable. It also scored a bit higher in our accuracy tests and is marginally less expensive. Other than that, the two units are virtually identical. If you find one or the other on sale, you'd be getting a good deal.
The Withings BPM Connect stands out with its sleek design and minimalistic LED light display. The device pairs with the easy-to-navigate Health Mate app (Android and iOS), which tracks and charts your blood pressure. Readings appear on the monitor and on your phone in the app, and sharing measurements with your doctor is as easy as three screen taps and entering their email address. The all-in-one cuff is easy to position and secure. If you get the placement wrong or move during the reading, an error message directs you to try again, and the app gives you tips to take a better measurement. We also really like that you can keep the battery recharged with a USB cable and that it has unlimited memory for up to eight users.
While this design-heavy device and app keep up with the times, they also complicate the process. You have to look up how to align the cuff properly and to learn how and when to press the device's one button to take one measurement, to take three and average them, and to scroll through the users that you can set up on the app. It's trickier than a big START/STOP button. The white-on-white display that disappears after about 20 seconds can also be a pain. The Withings is accurate enough for our three MD testers but varied more than most of the other devices in our tests. This is an excellent choice for tech-savvy folks of any age who travel often or who are looking for an integrated, app-supported health care ecosystem.
The Vive Precision Blood Pressure Machine was a top contender until we realized that our measurements were varying from the control readings more than most. The monitor has a large and easy to read display, it takes measurements quickly and quietly, and it has a nice amount of memory for two users.
According to our physician testers, readings that shift 10 to 20 mmHg from the control could result from natural variance since blood pressures shift constantly. The Vive didn't give readings outside of 20 mmHg, but more of them varied over 10 mmHg than any other monitor tested.
The Beurer BM 26 Upper Arm BPM is a clear-cut monitor that fared well in most aspects of testing. Like the Vive, though, its accuracy tests varied more than the other monitors.
The Beurer was the only monitor in our tests to get a measurement that ranged more than 20 mmHg from the control. That is just one reading, though a number of them varied more than 10 mmHg as well. Aside from that, we liked this monitor. The only other issue of note is that the quick guide start is not very clear. It's not hard to set up when you dig into the manual, though.
Why You Should Trust Us
Three medical doctors and a wilderness first responder converged on an idyllic country retreat to kick back, relax, and test blood pressure monitors. Zenning out this hard to reduce heart stress is tough work, and we all have the bruised arms to prove it. Clark Tate trained as a wilderness first responder and has been around medicine all her life. Her dad is lead tester Dr. Glen Tate, a family practice physician with 38 years of experience.
To test the blood pressure monitors, Dr. Tate, Clark, and two other physicians took turns taking controlled blood pressure measurements with a calibrated mercury sphygmomanometer. They then took measurements with the test monitors and compared the results. While the doctors would be comfortable with their patients using most of these monitors to keep track of their blood pressure, there were two that Dr. Tate would probably not recommend. Our lead tester also downloaded and used all the accompanying apps to assess their user-friendliness and storage capacities.
Analysis and Test Results
While wearing our arms out testing accuracy, we took notes on how easy these devices are to use and tried out all their features to see which work well. Overall, we're very impressed with the quality and price points of these monitors, but highlight the top models in each key area of performance below.
Blood pressure measurements are a snapshot of information — your blood pressure changes with every move you make. Blood pressure monitors take indirect measurements by compressing your artery. If you want a direct (i.e., completely accurate) reading, you'd need to stick a needle into your artery and hook it up to a manometer. That's painful and fairly dangerous. Since your blood pressure varies, and you're only getting secondhand information about it, it's important to take measurements at the same time of day and under the same conditions to get an idea of what's going on with your heart.
- Don't eat, exercises, bathe, smoke or drink alcohol or caffeine 30 minutes before taking your measurement
- Don't sit near your cell phone or computer while taking the measurement
- Sit with your feet flat on the floor and relax for 5 to 10 minutes before the measurement
- Rest your test arm (usually your left) on a table and place the cuff level with your heart
- Always take the measurement on the same arm at the same time of day
- Communicate your findings with a healthcare professional. Only they have the training to interpret the readings.
- Watch online videos from reputable medical and health care facilities to learn more.
Since blood pressures are continually fluctuating, shifts of 10 to 20 mmHg naturally occur from moment to moment. So we looked for relative differences between the monitors. Some never varied more than 10 mmHg, others did over 35% of the time, so we use that as our primary marker. The most accurate monitors we tester are the Omron Platinum and the Balance Greater Goods Cuff Kit. Though they did vary from our control readings, as we expected, only one reading from the Balance changed by as much as 10 mmHg. The Platinum never varied by that amount.
The Alcédo, Omron Bronze, ParaMed, and QardioArm are a close second tier, with only a few readings that varied 10 mmHg or more. The Withings is slightly behind them, with only one more measurement beyond the marker than the QardioArm, but its numbers range more widely. We still think it would work fine for regular blood pressure measurements to pick out trends over time.
The other monitors are less accurate. Though they would probably do a reasonable job of tracking your blood pressure over time, it's hard to recommend them over more accurate options that are similarly easy to use and within similar price ranges.
Ease of Use
To meaningfully monitor your blood pressure, you need to do so often, usually once a day, around the same time of day. That means it better be so easy to do that it's practically a joy. The Balance Greater Goods BPM Cuff is that monitor for us. It even has the bright and sunny colors to prove it. The three buttons do exactly what they say they will, the cuff is a cinch to line up with your artery, and the simple graphic printed on it shows you how. The only hitch in this monitor's easy-peasy armor is that you need to enter your data into the Balance Health app or a notebook if you want to save more than 60 readings. Still, we love the simplicity.
The Omron Platinum isn't far behind, with a generous screen showing current and past readings. It also has a button that averages your morning readings, a memory button, and a button to toggle between users. You do have to poke around the user manual to figure out some of the more advanced functions, like setting up a three-reading average measurement, but it's not intimidating. The comfy cuff also has a "how-to" diagram you can see when wearing it. The Omron Bronze is a simpler option. You've got a START/STOP button and a button to scroll through all 14 of your recorded readings. It's hard to get confused.
Okay, so this one's tricky. The Alcédo and practically identical ParaMed are only slightly more complicated to use than the top options since they make it harder to switch between users (you have to press the SET button while the unit is asleep and alternate between users with the MEM button). But, they also play bad music at you. Music that makes you think about funerals. As one tester put it, "If I had to listen to that music twice a day, I would throw that thing out the window." You can place both units in silent mode by pressing the "Set" button twice when the power is off, but then you lose the helpful live voice recording. Tread carefully here.
The two techy options, the Withings BPM Connect and QardioArm Wireless Connect, aren't that hard to figure out. You just have to be motivated to do so.
If you're doing the hard work of checking your blood pressure daily, you want to make sure you can communicate that information to your doctor so your health benefits. For that reason, memory matters.
The options with apps have virtually unlimited memory. Both the Withings and QardioArm monitors automatically upload your readings, save them, and chart them. Both make it easy to email the recordings to yourself or your doctor. The Omron app provides these services as well, but you have to press some buttons to transfer your records via Bluetooth with the Platinum or manually enter them with the Bronze. Otherwise, the Omron Bronze only has space for 14 readings for a single user.
The Alcédo and ParaMed have twice the memory of the Balance Greater Goods Cuff, 120 readings for each of two users instead of only 60. But the Balance does have an app for you to upload your readings manually.
If you are measuring your blood pressure daily for years, you may need to find an external tracking system, like a third-party app or a spreadsheet, to track your readings when you run out of memory on the simpler monitors.
Most of these monitors will do a fine or even great job of measuring your blood pressure. But what else they'll do for you? All of the options we tested give you your heart rate along with your blood pressure. All but one, the Withings, will also alert you if they detect an irregular heartbeat. They also interpret your blood pressure using color codes based on the American Heart Association or the World Health Organization hypertension guidelines. And you'll get a case or sack with all but the Omron Bronze and the Vive. The Withings and QardioArm wrap themselves up in tidy little packages.
You can set up the Omron Platinum, the Withings BPM Connect, and the QardioArm Connect to take three measurements in a row and average them to enrich the data. The Alcédo, ParaMed, and Beurer will average your last three readings, which also gives you an idea of what is going on overtime. The Platinum has a dedicated button to average your morning time readings (a great time to schedule consistent daily measurements), to summarize data at a glance.
The talking Alcédo and ParaMed are very useful if you have trouble seeing the monitor with or without your glasses. But it's a lot to commit to listening to someone else's soundtrack every day. We wish there were a few music selections here. Even better, we wish we could turn off the music but keep the voice assistance on.
We hope we've helped you find the perfect blood pressure monitor for your home health care needs. To get you ready for a proper reading, we'd like you to relax. Take a deep breath in. Let it out. Imagine, you're swinging in a shade-cooled hammock beside a sun-struck beach. The white sand looks cool in the oblique light, but the sun is warm, where a ray strikes your feet. Birds are singing…
— Clark Tate