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Free blood pressure machines: Are they accurate?
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Jun 22, 2007

How accurate are the blood pressure machines in grocery stores and drugstores?

Answer: Not accurate enough to make health decisions regarding your blood pressure.

The blood pressure machines that you can use free of charge in many grocery stores and drugstores may have been accurate when first installed. But in order to stay accurate, they must be maintained and recalibrated. Generally, no information is available regarding the care of these devices. As a result, the reading you get has limited value because it may be incorrect.

In addition, the blood pressure cuffs on these do-it-yourself machines are often too small to get an accurate reading on most people with high blood pressure. To ensure accuracy, the inflatable portion of the cuff should cover at least 80 percent of the upper arm.

It's best to have your blood pressure checked in a medical facility or in a community screening program with trained staff. If you need to check your blood pressure more frequently, your doctor can instruct you on the best way to monitor your blood pressure from home.
 

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