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Home Blood Pressure Kits: Quality Varies

Consumer Reports Finds Wide Range of Accuracy in Home Tests for Hypertension and Blood Glucose

Blood Glucose Monitors

None of the 13 tested blood-glucose monitors performed poorly in terms of consistency and accuracy, but Consumer Reports Health Editor Gayle Williams says she was surprised to find that one of the top performers was also one of the cheapest.

The ReliOn Ultima (ranked fourth), sold at Wal-Mart, cost just $9, with test strips averaging just 44 cents each. Strips for three other top performers averaged just over $1 a piece.

"Someone might see a $9 glucose meter and say it can't possibly work when most other meters cost $70 or $80, but it performed very well," she says. "And a strip that costs 44 cents is going to save someone who tests three or four times a day a lot of money."

Among the other top performers:

  • The OneTouch UltraMini ($20, $1.14 per strip)
  • Ascensia Contour ($80, $1.10 per strip)
  • OneTouch Ultra2 ($70, $1.14 per strip)
  • Accu-Chek Compact Plus ($73, $1.10 per strip)
  • OneTouch UltraSmart ($85, $1.14 per strip)

While it was rated very good in terms of accuracy, the Duo-Care combined blood glucose and wrist device scored poorly in terms of ease of use.

The investigators found that the Duo-Care device could accidentally be set to show sugar levels in foreign measurement units, rather than in U.S. units.

Duo-Care Response

A spokesman for the company that manufactures the Duo-Care tells WebMD that the product is preset for use in the U.S., and the instructions for changing to a different measurement unit are clear.

Genexel-Sein Vice President Douglas Stafford says the Duo-Care dual device underwent rigorous testing for accuracy in order to meet FDA standards for sale in the U.S.

"Every product [Consumer Reports] tested meets FDA requirements for accuracy, and FDA holds everyone to the same high standards," he says.

The Duo-Care device is among the only combined blood glucose and blood pressure monitors sold in the U.S.; Stafford says the response from the diabetes community has been very positive.

"We talk to a lot of physicians, nurses, and other diabetes educators who tell us they have been waiting for something like this because blood pressure control is critical for diabetics," he says.

"Many of the serious side effects of diabetes are the result of poor blood pressure control, and this product reminds patients that monitoring blood pressure is important just like monitoring blood glucose."

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One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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