How accurate are the blood pressure machines in grocery stores and drugstores?

Answers from Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.

Public blood pressure machines, such as those found in pharmacies, may provide helpful information about your blood pressure, but they may have some limitations. The accuracy of these machines depends on several factors, such as a correct cuff size and proper use of the machines. Ask your doctor for advice on using public blood pressure machines.

The blood pressure cuffs on some public blood pressure machines may be too small or too large to get an accurate reading on some people with high blood pressure. Having a properly fitting cuff is important because poorly fitting cuffs won't give accurate blood pressure measurements.

It's best to have your blood pressure checked in a medical facility or in a community screening program with trained staff. Before diagnosing or treating high blood pressure, you'll need to have your blood pressure measured by a known, accurate instrument in your doctor's office on several separate visits.

If you need to check your blood pressure more frequently, your doctor can instruct you on the best way to monitor your blood pressure at home. Home blood pressure monitoring can be an inexpensive way to get regular blood pressure readings. Home blood pressure monitoring isn't a substitute for visits to your doctor, and home blood pressure monitors may have some limitations. Even if you get normal readings, don't stop or change your medications or alter your diet without talking to your doctor first.

July 08, 2015 See more Expert Answers