Dead Tools

Blood Pressure Monitor

Digital, easy, inexpensive

For taking your blood pressure at home, I recommend this excellent, beautifully engineered wrist sphygmomanometer. The great wizards at Panasonic have taken the cumbersome apparatus used to measure blood pressure, shrunk it into a little box and made it easy to use by anyone. That, to me, is wizardry.

You push the yellow button, the cuff squeezes your wrist and then deflates, showing your blood pressure in a nice, easy-to-read digital readout along with your heart rate. The whole unit measures 2.5″ x 2″ x 1″; and uses two AAA batteries. It costs $42 from Amazon*.

But will it deliver valid blood pressure measurements? Unequivocally, yes.

I took my little Panasonic into the Operating Room where I work and put it on the wrist of my patients, on the same arm on which I put my professional-grade anesthesia machine blood pressure cuff which, by the way, costs around $5,000. As soon as the anesthesia machine-value came up on my monitor screen, I pushed the little button on my Panasonic and then recorded both readings on a flow chart I’d created.

My conclusion after doing this informal study on six or seven patients was that the Panasonic is accurate, reliable and in fact better than the medical-grade equipment I use in two areas:

1) It’s much easier to use: goes on in a couple seconds, as opposed to screwing around trying to get the blood pressure cuff and Velcro seal positioned just so, and then having to move the long rubber connecting tube to the anesthesia machine out of the way.
2) It’s much faster: a reading from the Panasonic takes maybe 30 seconds from button push to obtaining a value; the anesthesia version takes 1-2 minutes.

I keep my little Panasonic in my fanny pack when I’m in the OR, as a backup, ’cause you just never know when your monitor’s gonna crash.

-- Joe Stirt, MD 02/15/05

(I hope you don't need one of these, but we do. This little gizmo is incredibly compact, fast, easy to use and trouble free (no mercury either). It's one small marvel, and now part of our home medical kit. -- KK *This model has been discontinued and replaced with the more recently-reviewed #EW3006S from Panasonic -- SL — editors)

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