Are BP readings reliable?

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I think it's great having a BP measuring machine at home, they come in a bunch of models, and I guess you could even go bulb and stethoscope "sphygmomanometer" if you're stuck in 1967.  But no reading method is very exact, and I wonder at the very concept of pressure-constricting an arm or wrist, to measure pressure.

?Different doctors use different devices, and my cousin the nurse says that if a nurse gets one reading and the doctor another, believe the nurse - they do it more often.  But isn't this just a little bit horrible, that we're not sure what to even make of these readings?

?And I'm asking really even when the readings are repeatable.  I know we're not supposed to be able to just sense our BP but I can usually guess the range - usually but not often, sometimes I get surprisingly high or low readings.  I just note them in the log with a couple of question marks.  What's your experience with all of this?

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5 Replies

  • Posted

    Yes, I can usually after 16 years of taking mine judge it quite accurately.

    The consultant I see at the hypertension clinic told me to take mine three times a day with four readings over a ten minute period each time. When I see him I give him a bundle of printouts.

    If three out of the four are close in range I believe them otherwise my AF has probably caused an error.

    Upper arm monitors are way more accurate than wrist ones.

    The sphygmomanometer is the most accurate but rather difficult for the non expert to use.

  • Posted

    I find taking blood pressure readings a waste of time since bp changes minute to minute.. all this nonsense is designed to scare people into believing that they are doing something constructive..and selling equipment and drugs....
  • Posted

    Does you car use fuel at the same rate for all of a journey ? You BP changes from minute to minute depending on what you are doing and thinking.
  • Posted


    You're correct to question the reliability of these devices, but I've always found the 

    bulb stethoscope set up to be the most accurate, but you have to have good hearing, I learned how to use them when I was 12, being taught by a family member who was a medical professional.  You also have to be aware that some

    people have what is called "a silent gap".  My father had this, and I have it as well.

    When a person has this type, the measurer has to make sure they "pump" the 

    pressure high enough, or the reading will be false, in that it will look low on the systolic reading, but in reality it's really much higher.  Whenever I saw a new cardiologist I informed him of this strange medical quirk, and he would be sure to

    pump it up over 200, so he didn't miss a high systolic reading.  I've never encountered a specialist yet who didn't know this exists in some patients.  If  I ever

    encounter one who doesn't know of this, it would be the last time I visited them, because they probably graduated near the middle (if your lucky) of bottom of their

    class.  I have a strong family history of fatal strokes, so the last thing I need is a practitioner who isn't up on his game.

  • Posted

    Hi Jx41870

    Home readings are off almost 70 percent of the time. Most of the devices take measurements with deviations by more than 5 mmHg.

    Besides, portable blood pressure monitors are tested on healthy people, so they are not as accurate in those with heart disease and some models are not tested and validated.

    This could be a problem in case  that you need a strict blood pressure monitoring and not only prevention.

    Here you can find some information about validated blood pressure monitors and about how to choose the proper one according to your needs.


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