Which measurement is most useful? Should I measure my blood pressure on my upper arm or wrist?
Tests show that wrist blood pressure monitors deliver results that are as reliable as upper arm monitors.
However, as we age, our blood vessels may become narrower due to calcification, or harden due to arteriosclerosis. This affects the arteries in the wrist in particular, as they are further away from the heart, making a precise measurement more difficult. For this reason, older people and smokers should take their measurements on the upper arm.
Wrist blood pressure monitors are not suitable for patients with diabetes, as their arteries may be calcified or porous.
Why are there differences in the results between measurements taken on the upper arm and wrist?
Your wrist must be at heart level when taking a measurement from your wrist. If, while seated, the arm is positioned flat on a table for example, the blood pressure will be overestimated by around 7-8 mmHg, because there is a difference between the level of the wrist and that of the heart (1.5 cm corresponds to 1 mmHg).
Incorrect measuring results are also created when measuring at the wrist if you have cardiac arrhythmia and changes to the arteries in the wrist (e.g. due to age). Wrist devices may therefore give imprecise readings for older people in particular. The arteries in the upper arm are less sensitive to influences of this type. For this reason, occasional measurements on the upper arm are recommended.