We road test six of the best blood pressure monitors
Next week is officially Know Your Numbers! Week - seven days when we're encouraged to learn more about our blood pressure levels. These devices will show you how.
Give it a wrist
Braun VitalScan 3, £39.99, from www.boots.com
If you find arm monitors a little fiddly, this gadget will appeal. Simply pop in two AAA batteries, set the time and date (you're prompted so it's straight forward enough), then attach it to your wrist with the screen palm side up. Lift your wrist to heart height and press the red button. Like other monitors you'll feel a slight pressure on the area, but it's not an unsettling feeling and within 30 seconds or so you'll have your reading. The device will store 90 readings and also monitors your pulse and has irregular heartbeat detection. A great gadget.
Sense of community
Activ8rlives Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Monitor, £59.99, from www.amazon.co.uk
With a large, easy-to-read LCD screen, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is a good quality but basic monitor, tailored towards technophobes. However, while it may be simple to use, its capabilities are anything but. To get the most out of this gizmo, you'll need a smartphone/tablet with Bluetooth capabilities (iOS 7.1 and above, Android 4.3 and above). Begin by downloading and registering the corresponding free Activ8rlives app. When you take your blood pressure, you can keep track of how it compares to your previous readings as the data will be uploaded via Bluetooth to your phone or tablet. However, the tech doesn't end there. On the Activ8rlives website you can not only access your readings but join communities with other members who are also aiming to lead a healthier lifestyle.
QardioArm monitor, £99, from www.getqardio.com
The QardioArm monitor has both style and substance. Available in seven colours, the portable device syncs up to your smartphone/tablet via Bluetooth. After popping the gadget on your arm, it will deliver both your systolic and diastolic blood pressure to your tablet. You can then share your data with others - whether that's worried family members or even your doctor. There's one additional quirk to the QardioArm. Do you think your blood pressure rises when you're using the monitor because you don't like the inflating sensation? This one allows you to look at a photo slideshow, so you'll be distracted and relax during the process. Requires four AAA batteries (included).
Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor, £109.95, from www.withings.com
Another monitor which highlights that medical tech can be both aesthetically pleasing and functional at the same time is Withings' Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor. You'll need to download the Health Mate app and sync it to your gadget's Bluetooth, but then it's a case of popping the cuff around your arm, pressing the button on top of the cylinder and launching the app. Follow the very simple on-screen instructions and your blood pressure will be taken. Results are sent straight to your device, rather than displayed on the gadget itself. In addition to creating graphs with the data (including your historical readings), it will compare your results to World Health Organisation blood pressure standards.
On the cuff
Omron MIT5, £55.29, from www.amazon.co.uk
Omron have plenty of blood pressure monitors on the market and the MIT5 is particularly good. It strikes the balance of being both a straightforward monitor, while at the same time having tech capabilities if you want them. You'll be impressed by how easy it is to operate. The device will let you know when the cuff is placed correctly on the arm (an 'Okay' icon will appear), and it will store 100 readings each for two users. As for the technology, you can upload the data via Bluetooth to the BiLink Software that comes with it. Then you can monitor your readings on your PC/Mac.
Simply does it
Pro Logic PL100 Basic Blood Pressure Monitor, £14.99, www.chemistdirect.co.uk
Want to monitor your blood pressure without splashing the cash? This good budget buy may lack some of the gadgetry that the others have but it's a good, solid monitor that won't require a big outlay. It is simple and easy to use - just press the blue button and it will inflate using Intellisense technology to make sure it does so to the right level. You will then have your reading - and that's it. Simple, but does the job well.
App of the week
Battery Doctor, free from Google Play, Amazon and iTunes
Improve your Smartphone's battery power with this great app. It will estimate your remaining battery time, including how much further it'll go if you turn off your Bluetooth/Wi-Fi when you're not using them, and it will turn off apps (when you're not using them) to improve your battery.
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