The Perfect Christmas Gifts for the Palpitating or Hypertensive In Your Life

As December draws ever closer to the twenty-fifth you may find yourself  behind the wheel of a large automobile puzzling over the perfect gift for your loved ones.
Fear not, for the skeptical cardiologist has a few suggestions to help you.

The Omron 10 Blood Pressure Monitor

EXTRA-LARGE digits with backlight!!

If your hypertensive friend or relative already has all the standard BP paraphernalia (pill splitter, basic BP cuff), owns a smart phone and has an engineer or scientist approach to data the Omron 10 (BP786, 59.99$ at Best just might be the perfect gift.
The skeptical cardiologist recently purchased two (that’s right two) of these in anticipation of Christmas.
Christmas arrives with multiple stressors guaranteed to hike your blood pressure.
The Omron 10 offered three features not available on my basic Walgreen’s BP cuff that I felt were possibly useful:

  1. Averaging/automating three consecutive readings. After reading about the SPRINT BP trial which showed a benefit of aiming for SBP of 120 over 140,  I thought I should try to reproduce the method used in the trial. This involved measuring BP 3 times separated by 5 minutes and averaging the results. The Omron 10 can be set to make and average three BP readings separated by a variable time period.
  2. The ability to communicate with an iPhone or Android smartphone and record and display the data in an app.
  3. Works off both batteries and plug in electrical power.

I thought my dad (a retired chemist) would like the Omron 10’s features but, alas, he informed me that if he wanted to average three BP readings he could just write down the numbers and do the math.
IMG_5670If he had an iPhone he might really like the way the Omron sends its data to the free Omron app.
The app displays BP  and heart rate readings recorded for different time intervals.
You can take a screen shot like I did here or email it and share the data with your doctor through the doctor’s patient portal!

The AliveCor Mobile ECG

IMG_6936 copyI’ve mentioned this really cool device a few times (here and here).
It is now listed on for $57 (a significant drop from when I purchased it)  and can be attached to your smartphone case. It does a really good job of recording a single lead electrocardiogram (ECG) and diagnosing normality or atrial fibrillation.
If your friend or loved one  is experiencing periodic fluttering in their chest or a sensation of the heart skipping beats or racing (the general term for which is palpitations) then this could be the perfect gift.

A number of my patients have purchased these and have made ECG recordings which I can review online.
Primarily I have been recommending them to my patients who have atrial fibrillation periodically.
You may think this is too complicated a device to master but last week I saw in my office a 94 year old lady who had had an episode of atrial fibrillation earlier in the year.  Since her last visit she had purchased an AliveCor device and was able to show me the ECG recordings she had made on her iPhone.
May your holiday season be joyous, full of loved ones and free of stressors that raise your blood pressure and cause your heart to pound and race. But if it is not, consider purchasing one of these nifty devices.
Same as it ever was



3 thoughts on “The Perfect Christmas Gifts for the Palpitating or Hypertensive In Your Life”

  1. I have the QardioArm and think it is great, love the portability seems to be real close to my old Omron and it monitors me for irregular heart beats. Keeps readings on my I phone but most Doctors don’t seem to be interested. Like my ECG’s from Apple Watch.

  2. Dear Dr. Heart,
    As a cardiologist, I know your heart is in the right place (forgive the pun) I must question your choice of a gift.
    Yet as a woman who would rather receive an appliance for Christmas over jewels; seriously? a blood pressure monitor?
    Men: hint…don’t give this to your wife for a gift unless it is wrapped in a diamond necklace. She may not hit you as hard…or her blood pressure may not go up as high seeing jewels. Also include a note expressing how your love for her is so deep that you’d like her to be healthy so that she could appreciate the diamonds for many years to come…or at least until you get it paid off.
    I do have to thank you, however, for helping to lower my BP this morning with a hearty (dang, another pun) chuckle!


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