Purchase advice for sphygmomanometers: recommendations and buying guide

Omron RS2

Measuring instruments can save lives for little money

Hypertension can be life threatening and should be monitored regularly. Appropriate sphygmomanometers are available in different variants and in all price ranges. With our purchase advisor you will find the right blood pressure monitor and recommendations from the German high pressure league and the Stiftung Warentest.

More than 20 million people in Germany suffer from high blood pressure alone. The German Hypertension League, for example, assumes that about every third adult is affected by the “widespread disease” – and one in five does not even know, according to the medical association, that he is at risk. Unrecognized or untreated high blood pressure can be life-threatening.

High blood pressure is the number 1 risk factor when it comes to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks or strokes – and these in turn account for nearly 40 percent of deaths in Germany. So it is all the more important that those affected keep an eye on their blood pressure values every day. The easiest way is to control it yourself with a sphygmomanometer.

Upper arm or wrist? Also a matter of convenience

There are now plenty of gauges that allow you to control your own blood pressure. But which model is right for you? Basically, a distinction is made between devices for the upper arm and for the wrist. The slightly cumbersome to handle upper arm variant is equipped with a separate sleeve. In contrast, the compact wrist models have already integrated the cuff. It is important that the cuff fits your wrist or upper arm circumference. Too big cuffs can falsify the result.

Main advantages of the devices for the wrist: They are relatively small, more comfortable to use and usually much cheaper. Attention: To avoid measurement errors, the measurement should always be at heart level. This is a problem that is self-evident for devices for the upper arm. The wrist blood pressure monitors also say that they are much more mobile, given their weight and smaller size, making them suitable for on the go and longer absences. On the other hand, you may experience inaccuracies if you have arteriosclerosis.

Experts agree: Good wrist devices now measure just as reliably as blood pressure monitors for the upper arm. Wrist models are a bit simpler and more convenient to use, but are more likely to introduce measurement errors. But the blood pressure gauges for the upper arm are usually more expensive. As blood vessels contract with deposits as they age, older people, as well as smokers, are more likely to resort to the upper arm model. Regardless of the device class, you should pay attention to an easy-to-read display when buying. Especially useful: devices that use the display with a simple color code (red, yellow, green), the measured values of “good to bad” rank.

Stiftung Warentest and German High Pressure League

Stiftung Warentest last tested various wrist and upper arm measuring devices in May 2016. Only three out of 15 tested products received the grade “good”: the Omron RS2 and Boso Medistar + wrist gauges – both available for less than 30 euros each. For the upper arm measurement, the Boso Medicus received the best mark in the test.

The German High Pressure League in turn awards its own seal of approval. However, measurement accuracy alone is tested – ease of use and other factors are not important in the assessment. And unlike the Stiftung Warentest, the professional society does not issue any grades. Nevertheless, the organization claims to be “better” to test and has criticized the test of the Stiftung Warentest accordingly: Thus, for example, in the test procedure of the German high-pressure league, the number of subjects with 96 to 26 many times higher. The professional society also points out that all devices of the Stiftung Warentest were tested on all subjects. Since a test takes at least 40 minutes, could the measurement circumstances have falsified the assessment – in the tests of the high pressure league will usually tested a maximum of two to three devices on a subject. In addition, the rating may not depend, for example, on whether a device is battery or battery operated.

Recommendations of the experts

Since CHIP itself has not yet tested any blood pressure devices in its laboratory, we are ultimately guided by the recommendations of Stiftung Warentest and the German Hypertension League. Since we do not “favor” any expert opinion, here are three models that have performed well both at the Stiftung Warentest and the Deutsche Hochdruckliga:

Omron RS2: Best blood pressure monitor for the wrist

Omron RS2

With an overall grade of 2.2, the Omron RS2 made it to the podium of blood pressure monitors in the test of Stiftung Warentest 2016. The model is part of the much cheaper devices, sometimes well below 30 euros. Although it received “only” the grade 2.4 in the blood pressure measurement, but managed in the susceptibility to a very good rating. But it was a bit of a hitch with regard to the features: the battery life is not particularly long, and there is no need to transfer data to a smartphone app. If the blood pressure exceeds the recommended values, this will be indicated by an icon on the display. The Omron RS2 is also well received by the competition from the German High Pressure League – and in 2016 also received the seal of approval from the medical specialist society.

Omron RS2

Boso Medicus X: Best Blood Pressure Monitor for the Upper Arm

The test winner among the upper arm models finished in the test of Stiftung Warentest with an overall score of 2.3. The Boso Medicus X achieved good results when it came to handling it. The user guide and the battery life was the Stiftung Warentest very good and in terms of measurement accuracy, the testers had the Mediucs X little to complain. With a price of about 40 euros up the device is already in the slightly more expensive category.

Uebe Visomat comfort 20/40: with test and test seal (upper arm)

The Uebe Visomat Comfort 20/40 was tested once again by the high pressure league last year after 2006. The identically constructed predecessor had already tested the Stiftung Warentest in 2006 and awarded the upper arm device the overall grade “good”. Among other things, the testers praised the measurement accuracy and the repeatability of the measurement results, however, attested to the device weaknesses in tests with decreasing tightness of the cuff. In the end, the Uebe Visomat comfort 20/40 came in third out of 11 tested upper arm models. You currently have to invest between 50 and 60 euros for the Uebe Visomat comfort 20/40.

How to Take a Blood Pressure Manually

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