Image description: Part of a fat person’s bare arm and torso are shown, forming an abstract shape.
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“Health isn’t an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control. People’s health and looks are going to change over time.”» Ragen Chastain
The first thing you need to understand about your larger body and blood pressure is that high blood pressure is not your fault, and it’s not a moral failing. High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects many people, many of whom aren’t fat, and it can be caused by many factors, including genetics, stress, chronic illness, certain other health conditions, food intake and life factors that prevent you from spending much time in movement.
The second thing you need to know about large bodies and blood pressure is that using the proper size cuff really does make a difference in your numbers — possibly enough to put you in the “high blood pressure” category when that might not be accurate. If your doctor tells you you have high blood pressure, you have the right to ask which size cuff they’re using, and to request a larger cuff. Every doctor’s office should have large cuffs in addition to the medium size that’s used by default (and if your doctor doesn’t have one on hand, that’s something they need to correct right away, because they’re giving fat folks inaccurate information).
The third thing you need to know is that being fat has not been proven cause high blood pressure. People of all sizes and ages have high blood pressure.
Now that we’ve established that having high blood pressure isn’t a moral failing or punishment for being fat, let’s look at the logistics of measuring blood pressure. Though many people are just fine only having their blood pressure measured at the doctor’s office as needed, you may want to keep a closer eye on it, or your doctor may ask you to keep track of it at home for various reasons.
Depending on how your particular body is shaped, you may find that some cuffs work better than others. (Learn more here, with a content warning about use of the o* word and fatphobia.) Though we haven’t personally tested every recommendation below, each one comes recommended by someone in a fat body. Other places to find an extra-large blood pressure cuff include your local drugstore. You may also be able to visit your local fire station and request that your blood pressure be measured.
It’s important to use a blood pressure cuff that’s actually the right size for your arm. Be sure to measure your arm (you can use a measuring tape, or use a piece of paper or string and then measure that) to see what size you need. Just because the cuff will more or less physically fit on your arm doesn’t mean that it’s the right fit.
If you have a blood pressure monitor you already like, you may be able to replace just the cuff with a larger one from the same manufacturer. You might also consider using wrist or thigh cuffs, or using a regular sized cuff on your forearm, though the readings may not be as accurate. Remember that as long as your readings are consistently off, a few points in one direction or the other can be taken into account every time you measure (and report back to your doctor).
To ensure that you’re getting an accurate reading, take your new cuff to your doctor’s office (assuming they have a cuff that will fit you) and make sure the readings match. Your blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, so make sure you measure at the same time of day. Here’s some more information from the American Heart Association on how to measure your blood pressure properly and accurately.
Curious about managing blood pressure in ways that don’t require you to buy into diet culture or yo-yo dieting? Here are some health at every size (HAES) blood pressure management tips from nutritionist Meghan Cichy (PDF).
Here are 13 extra-large blood pressure cuffs to try out on your extraordinary, worthy large body.
1. LifeSource Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Extra Large Cuff
This monitor is the most widely recommended across fat-only spaces which is why it is at the top of our list! The extra-large cuff fits 16.5″ to 23.6″ arms. It has been clinically validated for accuracy and is easy to store. The device allows you to recall the last 60 readings in the device’s memory. The tapered cuff is designed to fit around the natural shape of your arm for a more accurate reading.
2. Large D-Ring Cuff 13″ to 17″
This durable and contoured Large D-ring cuff fits arms 13″ to 17″ in circumference. Before you purchase a home blood pressure monitor, it’s important to determine the best cuff size for you. To determine your arm size, use a cloth measuring tape and measure the circumference of your left upper arm midway between your elbow and shoulder. Ensuring that the blood pressure cuff is neither too tight nor too loose will help ensure the most accurate readings providing you a more accurate picture of your heart’s health. This cuff is only compatible with Omron Blood Pressure models.
3. Omron 5 Series Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor
The Omron 5 Series allows up to two users to measure, store, and review up to 50 blood pressure readings each (total 100 readings with date/time stamps). It displays the average of up to your last 3 readings taken within 10 minutes.
4. EMI Thigh Sized Manual Blood Pressure Monitor Set (16 to 25 inch)
This manual blood pressure monitor is available to check your blood pressure for taking blood pressure measurements using the thigh. The nylon-cuffed thigh-sized aneroid sphygmomanometer comes with index and range markings, gauge holder, artery indicator label with standard inflation bulb, precision manometer gauge, and oversize nylon zippered carrying case. Cuff size is 40.6-66.0CM ( 16 to 25 inch). Needs to be used with a stethoscope to take blood pressure measurements (sold separately).
5. Omron Silver Blood Pressure Monitor
The OMRON Silver Wireless Upper Arm home blood pressure monitor measures, stores, and lets you review up to 80 readings for one user with date and time stamps. OMRON Connect makes it easy to track your health by viewing your blood pressure at any time, checking for patterns, and emailing data to your physicians. Simplify how you manage your blood pressure with Alexa. Store and track readings and even share them with your doctor.
6. Slight Touch Fully Automatic Wrist Digital Blood Pressure Cuff Monitor
Now you can monitor your blood pressure with clinically accurate results by using this Slight Touch Fully Automatic Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor ST 501. It is easy to use and is clinically accurate. It can keep track of up to 60 readings each for 2 people, with an average of your last 3 readings.
7. BP Wizard BP Machine (Extra Large Cuff 9″-21″)
The Blood Pressure Wizard blood pressure meter comes with two cuffs. One regular size cuff that is 8″ – 16″ and an extra-large cuff that is 12″ – 21.” This is one of the most accurate units available! It is simple to operate with one-touch buttons that make it easy for anyone to initiate a test.
8. A&D Medical Large Replacement Cuff
This large blood pressure cuff fits upper arms 12.2″ to 17.7″ (31 – 45cm) and is only compatible with A&D Medical and LifeSource brand blood pressure monitor models. The tapered fit is designed to snugly and comfortably fit around your arm. All A&D Medical blood pressure cuffs are durable and come with a 2-year warranty.
9. A&D Medical Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Wide-Range Cuff
You can prevent inaccurate reading by buying the right size cuff from the start. A cuff that is too small will give you an artificially high reading and a cuff that is too large will give you an artificially low reading.
This blood pressure monitor has been thoroughly tested and has stood up to the medical industry’s world-class protocols, and it includes features designed to help you take a more accurate reading.
10. Omron 10 Series Wireless Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor
Omron 10 Series Wireless upper arm blood pressure is available for up to two users. It has Bluetooth technology that connects to your smartphone and Amazon Alexa-enabled devices. Push-button start displays precise at-home digital Blood Pressure readings on a backlit screen with extra-large digits and also detects irregular heartbeats.
11. Omron Gold Blood Pressure Monitor
Time to change your mindset from merely “checking” your blood pressure to “monitoring” it. The Omron Gold wireless wrist blood pressure monitor stores up to 200 reading for 2 users (100 readings for each user) in the monitor, or unlimited readings when used with the Omron Connect app, allowing you to keep comprehensive recordings of your readings over time and monitor any fluctuations in your reading. The app also lets you view your trend graphs and charts, and share them as needed with your family, caregivers, or doctors.
12. Welch Allyn Home Blood Pressure Monitor and Upper Arm Cuff
The Welch Allyn Home 1700 Series Blood Pressure Monitor features an easy-to-use, one-button operation to provide readings you can trust in just 20 seconds. The same SureBP technology used by doctors and hospitals worldwide enables an accurate measurement in half the time of the leading competitor without over-inflating or causing unnecessary discomfort.
13. Welch Allyn Home – Extra Large Cuff – 1700 Series Only (For Above Model)
Built from the same SureBP algorithm used in multi-parameter, hospital-grade monitors, the Welch Allyn Home Blood Pressure Monitor is an easy-to-use device that enables patients to capture accurate readings from the comfort of home. Captures blood pressure in about half the time as the leading competitor, making the reading capture more comfortable. The free smartphone app lets you store and track the readings, so you can monitor your progress.