You could feel absolutely fine, yet have high blood pressure which is why the American Heart Association advises regular screenings.
It's important to have an understanding of what healthy blood pressure looks like, and to keep yourself from being at risk for high blood pressure and the issues that are associated with it. In keeping track of your blood pressure, free monitors in pharmacies seem like a good idea, but are they accurate?
Good Housekeeping put free monitors to the test.
Good Housekeeping sent three volunteers and a nurse practitioner with a calibrated blood pressure cuff to four New Jersey pharmacies. Each person had his or her blood pressure taken three times by a pharmacy machine and three more times by the expert to get average systolic and diastolic readings for each person and method. Research revealed the following shocking information.
Of the machines' 22 average readings, 10 were off by more than five points from those registered by the nurse practitioner. One woman's machine readings averaged 106/66 versus the expert's 127/83. Researchers wondered if the machines' calibrations could be off, but couldn't find information on the machines, and the pharmacists couldn't say when they'd last been serviced.
Customer service was called at Vita-Stat/Lifeclinic, which said machines were serviced annually unless a problem was reported; the rep couldn't comment about specific ones. Another concern was that machines offered only one cuff size. Readings were less consistent and accurate on our smaller and larger volunteers; one petite woman got no reading at all from one monitor.
Not one machine included the AHA's advice to sit for five minutes before a reading. Two had outdated guidelines for normal-range readings.