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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 Pressure Monitors continued...

In earlier tests by Consumers Union, finger-type blood pressure monitors performed so poorly that they were not even included in the current analysis, Lipman says. "The finger monitors are vastly inferior and the wrist monitors don't work as well as the arm. It seems that the closer you get to the heart, the better off you are."

The American Heart Association also recommends automatic upper-arm cuff monitors, but not the wrist or finger devices.

"The accuracy and variability of the readings we have seen with finger and wrist monitors are so wide that we can't recommend them," Meyerson says.

Of the 16 monitors tested, the top four were all upper-arm cuff devices and all were judged excellent for accuracy.

They were:

  • Omron's Women's Advanced Elite 7300W ($100)
  • CVS by Microlife Delux Advanced 344534 ($90)
  • Omron's HEM-711AC ($90)
  • ReliOn HEM-741CREL from Wal-Mart ($40)

The Duo-Care combined blood glucose and wrist blood pressure monitor was the poorest performing blood-pressure monitor tested, receiving the only poor rating for accuracy.

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.

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