How accurate are wrist blood pressure monitors?

Answer From Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.

Some wrist blood pressure monitors may be accurate if used exactly as directed and checked against measurements taken in your provider's office. For the most reliable blood pressure measurement, the American Heart Association recommends using a monitor with a cuff that goes around your upper arm, when available.

Some people with very large arms may not have access to a well-fitting arm cuff at home. If so, measuring blood pressure at the wrist may be OK. Wrist blood pressure monitors may also be an option for people who had lymph nodes removed from the armpit (axiliary lymph node resection).

Using a wrist blood pressure monitor at home often gives falsely high readings due to poor positioning. If you use one, place it directly over the wrist (radial) artery, where you can feel the pulse. Don't place it over clothes. Keep your wrist at heart level. Be still during the test and don't bend the wrist. Bending (flexing) the wrist can cause incorrect readings.

It's common for blood pressure readings taken at home on any type of monitor to be different from those taken at a health care provider's office. If you have a wrist blood pressure monitor, take the device to your provider's office. Your provider can compare the blood pressure in your arm and wrist to make sure your device is working well.


Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.

July 19, 2022