Wrist monitors vs. arm monitors

Updated April 13, 2017

If a doctor suspects that you have high blood pressure or are already diagnosed, you may be considering purchasing a wrist or arm monitor. Taking a blood pressure measurement at home can help your doctor determine if your blood pressure medication is working well or if there needs to be a change. Blood pressure monitors can be important tools to help you keep track of your blood pressure changes throughout the day.


To take your blood pressure at home, you can use a hand or wrist monitor. A cuff around the arm is inflated by hand, while a wrist monitor is normally battery operated and automatically inflates with the touch of a button.


It is important to check whatever unit you choose for accuracy. You can take it to your doctor's office and check it against the nurse or physician's reading. Monitors can be complicated to use and can be damaged easily, which will affect the accuracy.

To prmote accuracy, keep the hand or arm that you are using for the reading at the same level as your heart. The American heart Association makes the recommendation that your elbow be kept at a 45 degree angle when taking your blood pressure. It is also important to always use the same arm when taking your blood pressure to maintain consistency.

Pros and Cons

The wrist monitor is a digital blood pressure monitor solution and shows the readings or numbers on the screen. The wrist monitor has become more popular because of the ease of use and some even have the ability to keep track of readings over the period of a few weeks, storing information or print out blood pressure readings. Digital monitors also have an error indication that can help you determine if there is a problem with the reading. The drawback of digital wrist monitors is that accuracy can change because of body movement or even an irregular heart rate.


When purchasing a blood pressure monitor, it is important to ask the doctor, nurse or pharmacist to help you determine what cuff size you will need. If you do not have the right size, your blood pressure measurements may be wrong. Make sure that the print or display of numbers will be easy for you to read.


Normal blood pressure is 120/80, while high blood pressure is 140/90 and higher. If your measurements are in between these two amounts, than you may have what is called pre-hypertension, which means that you are at risk for developing high blood pressure. If you have low blood pressure, or hypotension your reading may be below 90.

Arm Monitor

For an arm monitor, you can begin by placing the stethoscope on your ears and then put the stethoscope on the inner portion of the elbow. You should then pump the cuff, inflating it approximately thirty or forty points above the most recent systolic reading. This should be done rapidly, as if it is inflated slowly, it can cause an inaccurate reading. Slowly release the valve to let air leave the cuff and deflate by two or three mm per sec. If too much air is released, the reading will not be accurate. As you let the air out, you should begin to hear your heartbeat. The pressure reading or number on the dial is the systolic pressure. Continue deflating the cuff. When the sound of your heartbeat stops, look at the dial. The number that the line is at when you cannot hear your heartbeat is the diastolic pressure. Keep track of your measurement, putting the systolic amount before the diastolic, such as 161/114 or 120/80.

Wrist Monitor

A digital monitor does not require the use of a stethoscope. You should begin by putting the monitor around your wrist, power on and press start. Most models will inflate on it's own, but there are semi-automatic models that will require that you squeeze a rubber bulb to inflate. When the cuff is properly inflated, it will begin to reduce the pressure of the cuff, displaying your reading, with both the systolic and diastolic reading. Write down these numbers and turn the unit off.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Andrea Helaine has a Bachelor of Philosophy in theology and is currently finishing her thesis course for a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. Helaine has been writing professionally for over 10 years and has been published in several anthologies and is currently breaking into the screenwriting market.