Louise Farber checks her father's blood pressure regularly at home. It's a habit that may have saved his life when she got a reading that was way off.
"We went to the doctor," said Louise Farber. "He said, 'Get back in the car and go to the hospital. I'm going to let them know you're coming. There's something wrong.'"
If you're thinking of getting a home blood-pressure monitor, which one is right for you? Consumer Reports tested two types: ones that go around the upper arm and those that go around the wrist.
Trained medical technicians checked for accuracy by collecting 6,000 readings from 57 men and women. They compared the results against a professional monitor used in doctors' offices.
In all, the tests covered 16 devices, ranging in price from $40 to $150. There was also the Duo-Care monitor, which sells for $70 and measures blood pressure as well as blood-glucose levels for diabetics.
"It was good for measuring blood-glucose levels, but it didn't perform as well when measuring blood pressure," said Gayle Williams, Consumer Reports.
Monitors that wrap around the upper arm generally proved the most accurate. Consumer Reports named one a "best buy," the ReliOn Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor, which sells at Wal-Mart for $40. You don't need a prescription to buy a blood-pressure monitor, and Louise Farber calls it a real lifesaver.
"I will never forget that it saved my father's life to have that in the house," said Farber.
Consumer Reports says make sure the blood-pressure cuff fits your upper arm. If you need a larger cuff, Wal-Mart sells one for the ReliOn Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor for $10 extra.