It is one of the most frequently asked questions: What is the difference between an upper arm blood pressure monitor and a wrist blood pressure monitor? The difference is mainly in the reliability of the measurement results. We will be happy to explain to you why.
The answer to the question can be answered fairly easily. Nevertheless, it is important to know what the exact difference is between the two types of blood pressure monitors, but also what the advantages and disadvantages of each type are.
Placement of blood pressure monitors
The most obvious difference between the upper arm blood pressure monitor and the wrist blood pressure monitor is where it measures. The upper arm blood pressure monitor measures through the upper arm and the wrist blood pressure monitor measures through the wrist. This is an important difference. This is because the monitor must be at the height of the heart during the measurement. With a wrist blood pressure monitor, you therefore hold the wrist up. The upper arm blood pressure monitor already is positioned at the level of the heart, so you don't need to do anything extra for this.
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Accuracy of blood pressure monitors
Both blood pressure monitors can measure very accurately. Nevertheless, the measurement of an upper arm blood pressure monitor is often more reliable. This is because blood pressure monitors are very sensitive to movement. With an upper arm blood pressure measurement, you can easily hold the arm still, making the measurement very accurate. With a measurement on the wrist, this is much more difficult because you must hold the wrist blood pressure monitor at the level of the heart. After a few dozen seconds, it is already too hard for many people to keep the wrist completely still. And even with minimal movement, the measurement is immediately less accurate.
Possibilities of blood pressure monitors
Both the upper arm blood pressure monitor and the wrist blood pressure monitor are available in different brands and models, all of which differ in possibilities. The wrist blood pressure monitor is often seen as a device to "take a quick blood pressure reading". No need to take off any clothes, just roll up your sleeves. Therefore, most wrist blood pressure monitors have less comprehensive functions and limited storage capacity. But of course there are exceptions. For example, the Omron RS7 Intellisense wrist blood pressure monitor is a particularly comprehensive blood pressure monitor with a lot of features.
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The Dutch Heart Foundation prefers the upper arm blood pressure monitor because it gives the most accurate measurement (due to motion sensitivity). Also in the tests of the Dutch Consumers' Association are mainly upper arm blood pressure monitors. For example, the Omron M6 Comfort was rated best buy with an 2015 in the 8 test.
It's one of the most frequently asked questions about blood pressure monitors: Which blood pressure monitor is more accurate? An upper arm blood pressure monitor or a wrist blood pressure monitor? To answer this question, we look at the two aspects of blood pressure monitors: The accuracy requirements that a blood pressure monitor must meet and the use of an upper arm blood pressure monitor versus the use of a wrist blood pressure monitor. With the correct advice you can determine which blood pressure monitor is most suitable for you.
Accuracy requirements for blood pressure monitors
First of all, both an upper arm blood pressure monitor and a wrist blood pressure monitor must meet the same strict accuracy requirements. These requirements are:
- Blood pressure: +/- 3 mm Hg (mm mercury pressure)
- Heart rate: +/- 5% of the displayed value
With this accuracy, the rules in the European Union are met. This is directive 93/42/EEC, the Medical Devices Directive. And to European Standard EN1060, Non-Invasive Blood Pressure Monitors, Part 1: General Requirements and Part 3: Additional Requirements for Electromechanical Blood Pressure Measuring Systems.
According to the requirements within the European Union, an upper arm blood pressure monitor and a wrist blood pressure monitor are equally accurate.
Use of upper arm blood pressure monitor versus wrist blood pressure monitor
You use an upper arm blood pressure monitor in a different way than a wrist blood pressure monitor. Although both blood pressure monitors require you to be relaxed to get an accurate reading, it is more difficult with a wrist blood pressure monitor. This is because you should always hold a blood pressure monitor at the same height as the heart.
An upper arm blood pressure monitor requires you to rest your arm on a table. Your upper arm is then directly in the vicinity of the heart. You do not need to lift your arm. A wrist blood pressure monitor requires you to lift your wrist so that it is near the heart. This puts tension on your arm. After a while, this becomes more difficult to maintain. After all, you have to lift your arm for a certain amount of time. This will make your arm move a little bit. Therefore, the blood pressure measurement will become more inaccurate.
You might therefore conclude that an upper arm blood pressure monitor is more accurate than a wrist blood pressure monitor because of its use. Of course, this does vary from person to person.