Just 6% of home blood pressure monitors have been validated for accuracy, Australian study finds

A vast majority of home blood pressure monitors available in Australia have not been properly validated, according to new findings published in Hypertension.

Lead researcher James E. Sharman, PhD, deputy director at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania, and colleagues aimed to assess the quality of home blood pressure monitors sold throughout the continent.

“People around the world monitor their blood pressure using home devices to help to effectively manage hypertension and to help determine their risk for heart attacks or strokes,” Sherman said in a prepared statement. “If the devices haven’t been properly validated for accuracy, treatment decisions could be based on incorrect information.”

The team evaluated 972 models of blood pressure monitors that were available to be purchased online in Australia, finding that just 6% were properly validated. More than 18% of upper-arm cuff blood pressure devices had been validated, and none of the wristband models had been validated. The authors also observed that non-validated devices were cheaper.

Sharman detailed the many negative outcomes that can occur as a result of inaccurate blood pressure readings, including “unnecessary prescriptions” or “higher doses than needed of blood pressure-lowering medications.”

“Medications are costly, have potential side effects and patients incorrectly labeled with high blood pressure could suffer unnecessarily,” Sharman said. “When blood pressure is incorrectly underestimated, people might remain at increased risk for a heart attack or stroke that could otherwise be avoided with the appropriate medication and dose, and/or lifestyle changes.”

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that individuals with “borderline hypertension” measure their blood pressure at home on a regular basis.