Tracking your health data at home? These basic tools can help.

Blood pressure monitors are key for anyone with hypertension

Health sells. So, it’s no wonder there are so many home health gadgets on the market. While many can be useful, some medical tools are essential to have at home.

Gus Ramirez has pre-hypertension. It’s helpful to track his vitals in the convenience and comfort of his own home.

“I’ll take my blood pressure, and depending on the reading, I’ll call my doctor,” he said.

Having a few medical devices handy can allow you to track some basic health metrics and give you important information to discuss with your provider.

“These tools can’t replace a trusted clinician, but they can give you more data about your health in between doctor visits,” said Consumer Reports Catherine Roberts.

A blood pressure monitor is a must for anyone with high blood pressure, mainly because in-office blood pressure readings are often inaccurate. With nearly half of the adults in the U.S. having hypertension and less than a quarter having the condition under control, a blood pressure monitor can give users essential data right from their homes.

Consumer Reports’ top-rated home blood pressure monitor was the Omron Platinum for its accuracy and convenience. The Omron Silver performed similarly to the top pick but can only record data for a single user.

Next, keep a thermometer handy for those times you don’t feel well. It’s helpful to know if a fever has set in and how high it is. See your doctor if a fever lasts more than three days or rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Anyone who wants to know more about how much exercise they’re actually getting may want to consider a fitness tracker. Many trackers can monitor steps and activity levels and also track changes in heart rate.

While it might not seem like it, a bathroom scale can also be an essential medical tool.

“It is especially important if you have heart failure because even small weight changes can be an important warning sign of related problems like fluid retention,” Roberts said.

Unexpected weight loss in people with heart failure could also be a sign that the condition has progressed. In either case, notify your doctor.

And remember, if you’re 50 or older, especially if you take any meds or have a chronic condition such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, It’s important to have an annual checkup.

About the Author

Marilyn Moritz is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging up information that can make people’s lives a little bit better. As KSAT’S 12 On Your Side Consumer reporter, she focuses on exposing scams and dangerous products and helping people save money.

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