Which is Better Arm or Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor

Which is Better Arm or Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor? – Expert Recommendation

There’s indeed a substantial demand for both digital arm and wrist blood pressure devices in the market. However, even if both are designed with the same features and functionalities, their accuracy level may differ. Let’s discuss in detail to find out which is better arm or wrist blood pressure monitors.

AspectArm Blood Pressure DeviceWrist Blood Pressure Device
AccuracyGenerally considered more accurate due to larger arteriesMay be slightly less accurate due to narrower and shallower arteries
Cuff SizeLarger cuff size facilitates a better fit on a wide range of arm sizesLimited by smaller wrist size, may not accommodate larger arms comfortably
ComfortSome individuals find the cuff more comfortable, especially with paddingGenerally more comfortable, especially for those who find cuffs uncomfortable
PositioningRequires correct positioning at heart level for optimal accuracyAllows less room for error in positioning, but proper wrist alignment is crucial
Readout DisplayDisplay is typically larger and easier to read due to cuff placementDisplay may be smaller, potentially making it less convenient to read
Medical Conditions ImpactGenerally less impacted by factors like obesity or arrhythmiasMay be affected by certain medical conditions, potentially impacting accuracy


American Heart Association (AHA) Supports Arm Blood Pressure Devices

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), upper arm blood pressure monitor are better in terms of accuracy than wrist monitors. Basically, this distinction is primarily attributed to the anatomical differences between the measurement locations and the potential for variations in readings. 

The upper arm provides a more reliable reading of blood pressure compared to measurements taken at the wrist. This is because the arteries in the upper arm are closer to the heart. Moreover, arm arteries are typically larger and more stable than those in the wrist. As a result, the pressure wave generated by the heartbeat is more easily and consistently detected in the upper arm.

Unlike arm monitors, wrist monitors can be sensitive to the positioning. Indeed, even a few small changes in wrist position can lead to variations in the blood pressure readings.

Dr. James E. Shaman’s Research Showed Arm Blood Pressure Monitors Are Better

Let’s consider Dr. James E. Sharman’s research to understand which is more accurate a arm or wrist blood pressure monitor.

Dr. James and his team at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia, conducted a study. They sequentially measured “blood pressure” at the upper arm and then the wrist in 180 middle-aged and older individuals who were undergoing coronary angiography.

Their research indicated that wrist blood pressure measurements tend to show significant differences compared to upper arm measurements. On average, systolic blood pressure at the wrist was 5.5 mmHg higher than at the upper arm. 14 percent of participants showed substantial differences of 20 mmHg or more. 

This suggested that wrist blood pressure devices may not provide readings comparable to the established clinical standard. Moreover, the study underscored the importance of following a comprehensive guide for accurate home blood pressure measurements. Overall, it raised awareness about potential inaccuracies associated with wrist devices.

Bottom Line 

The clear consensus from both the American Heart Association and Dr. James E. Sharman’s research favors arm monitors. This is because arm bp monitors are more accurate than wrist ones.

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