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28 June 2021

How to buy the best blood pressure monitor

Do you need a wrist or an arm cuff blood pressure monitor? Whatever your needs, our guide will help you pick the best blood pressure monitor for you.
CW
Christina Woodger

Pick the right blood pressure monitor and it should last you a long time, allowing you to track changes that you can share with a medical professional. Read our expert guide if you want to find the perfect blood pressure monitor for you.

In our expert guide on how to buy the best blood pressure monitor, we explain which key features you should be looking out for when shopping. We can also reveal which popular retailers stock a wide selection of models and have included links to our expert blood pressure monitor reviews.

If you just want to see which blood pressure monitors have reached the Which? test lab, head straight to our expert blood pressure monitor reviews.

Video: choosing a blood pressure monitor

Wrist blood pressure monitors vs arm blood pressure monitors: what's the difference?

As our buying guide video above explains, there are two types of blood pressure monitor: those with a cuff on your upper arm, or those with a cuff on the wrist. But what's the difference between the two?

  • Wrist blood pressure monitors tend to be lighter and therefore more portable when traveling. These models also take up less storage space in your home. However, they are more prone to giving inaccurate readings as your wrist isn't naturally at heart height.
  • Arm blood pressure monitors are less prone to inaccurate readings as they’re easier to position at heart height. They are also suitable if you have more limited movement.

Blood pressure monitors use batteries – usually up to four AAA or AA. Some blood pressure monitors can also be plugged into the mains, but not all of these models have a mains adaptor included. Check in with our battery reviews to see which batteries last the longest.

How long does it take to get a blood pressure reading?

How long a blood pressure monitor takes is an important feature if you dislike the process and want it over with as quickly as possible, or don't have a lot of time to take your blood pressure.

Blood pressure monitors can take anything from just over 20 seconds to more than a minute per reading, with wrist monitors generally providing results more quickly.

Blood pressure monitor features to look out for

Our expert reviews can tell you which Best Buy monitors can guarantee accurate readings, but you may still be bamboozled by the many different features. So how do you decide which type of blood pressure monitor you need, and how much to spend? Below, we've rounded up some common blood pressure monitor features.

Date and time stamps for blood pressure readings

Some blood pressure monitors record the date and time every time a reading is saved. This can help you track your blood pressure over time, identify patterns and trends, and share data easily with a health professional. Not all blood pressure monitors can do this, so check the packaging if you consider this a vital feature.

Blood pressure data averaging

Some blood pressure monitors have a data averaging function – this usually means the machine will average the last three or so readings for you. There are variations on this – for example, showing data on a graph rather than, or as well as, numerically or averaging data over a longer period.

Data averaging could be very useful if you're tracking blood pressure over time and sharing results with a health professional, or have an additional risk factor, such as diabetes.

But if you are a dab hand at Microsoft Excel, you could equally summarise your data with a spreadsheet or even using old-fashioned pen and paper.

Irregular heartbeat detector

This is a useful extra that will tell you whether you have an arrhythmia: a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm.

Arrhythmia doesn't usually have symptoms, so this may be a feature you'd value in keeping an eye out for potential problems and flagging them with your GP.

Blood pressure risk indicator

This alerts you to whether your blood pressure reading falls within recommended levels, which could be useful if you’re not having your blood pressure regularly monitored by a health professional or if you don't always remember the recommended limits.

But if you're good at monitoring this yourself, you might not want to pay extra for fancier features to keep an eye on whether your blood pressure is within recommended limits.

For more details on blood pressure ranges, have a look at our guide – Blood pressure ranges explained - and how to measure yours.

Blood pressure monitors that store past readings

Some blood pressure monitors collect and store readings for one user, and some can do this for as many as six people.

The ability to store readings can be useful if you have more than one person with hypertension in your household, or want to pool your money for a model with fancier features, rather than have two basic monitors.

Out of those models that can store readings, the amount of readings they can remember varies, but can be up to 60 recordings.

Blood pressure monitors that link to your smartphone or tablet

Some blood pressure monitors can link wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet. This is great if you want to view and track your readings electronically and store data across your devices, especially if you already track other health data on your phone or tablet, such as activity levels, calories or weight, and want it all in one place.

However, this functionality is certainly not essential, and you'll pay a premium for this technology.

Blood pressure monitors that link to your PC

A minority of blood pressure monitors allow you to download your data onto a PC. In some cases, the machine comes with a memory stick to aid the process. While this could be a bonus if you're sharing readings with a health professional, you'll find this a step too far if you just want basic readings.

Where to buy a blood pressure monitor

When you're shopping online for a blood pressure monitor, make sure you’re handing over your money to a reputable seller. Check the retailer's returns policy and have a look at some customer reviews. Our advice guide on online shopping has more details.

Popular retailers that stock blood pressure monitors include:

  • Amazon stocks hundreds of blood pressure monitors from big-name brands including Braun, Omron and Withings. 
  • Argos sells upper arm blood pressure monitors and wrist blood pressure monitors. The majority are made by Omron, with prices starting around £20.
  • Boots has its own line of blood pressure monitors that start at £20. Other featured brands include Braun, Beurer and Omron.
  • LloydsPharmacy stocks blood pressure monitors ranging from £20 to over £150.
  • Superdrug offers bood pressure monitors from Braun, Kinetik Medical, Lifemax, Superdrug and Terraillon.
  • Tesco sells a single blood pressure monitor at the time of writing – the £35 Kinetik Health Blood Pressure Monitor.

Discover which retailers are trusted by Which? members with our expert guide on the best and worst shops.

Blood pressure monitors in the Which? test lab

Not all blood pressure monitors are equal when it comes to accuracy, and comparing models in the shop won’t be enough to know which will report your data correctly every time. 

We know how serious the wrong blood pressure reading could prove and we simply can’t recommend an inaccurate tracker – we make them Which? Don't Buys automatically.

Learn about the blood pressure monitors that always give accurate readings with our selection of Best Buy blood pressure monitors.