The smartwatch market is getting bigger day by day, and manufacturers are implementing new features consistently. We have seen several health-tracking features in smartwatches like heart rate, blood oxygen, sleep tracking, etc. One such feature gaining traction in smartwatches is the Blood Pressure Monitor. This article will discuss everything about the blood pressure monitor on a smartwatch, how it works, and its accuracy.
Blood Pressure Monitor in Smartwatches
Technology is vast, and we see a lot of breakthroughs in the tech world. Smartwatches are now capable of monitoring your blood pressure as well, but are they accurate enough to rely on? Read on.
What is Blood Pressure Monitoring? Why is it Necessary?
When a heartbeat takes place, the heart pumps blood into large blood vessels of the human circulatory system. And when the blood moves throughout the body, it puts pressure on the vessel walls, which is said to be the blood pressure level of a body.
It’s of two types – Systolic and Diastolic. Systolic blood pressure is when the heart beats in a regular motion and pumps oxygen-rich blood into the blood vessels. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure level on the blood vessels when the heart relaxes. The systolic blood pressure is always higher than diastolic blood pressure.
Blood pressure monitoring is necessary for people who have higher variations in their heart rate. The normal blood pressure range in adults is systolic blood pressure at less than or around 120 and diastolic blood at less than or around 80.
The blood pressure measurement unit is called millimeters of mercury (mmHg). It’s expressed as a fraction with systolic on top and diastolic at the bottom. For example, if someone has a 125/85 mmHg reading, 125 is systolic, and 85 is the diastolic pressure.
The normal blood pressure range is different for males and females according to different age groups.
If a person has 130-139 systolic and 80-89 diastolic blood pressure levels, it is the first stage of high blood pressure called hypertension. If a person is suffering a problem in oxygen inhaling and gets unconscious frequently, he should get the blood pressure checked.
How Do Smartwatches Measure Blood Pressure?
The digital blood pressure monitor used by doctors consists of a cuff that is tightened on the hand to measure blood flow pressure. However, it’s different in the case of a smartwatch.
The smartwatches measure health data like heart rate through the sensor at the back. For measuring blood pressure, smartwatches use the optical heart rate sensor or ECG (if available).
It detects the time it takes for a pulse to travel from the heart to the wrist. It is also known as Pulse Transit Time (PTT), based on which it shows the blood pressure readings. If the blood pressure is high, the pulse transit time is faster and if the blood pressure is low, the pulse transit time is slow.
This technology takes more time to calculate blood pressure readings as it takes longer to check variations. It is also recommended to stop the blood circulation for a while with a strap or cuff to measure the blood pressure accurately. This allows the force required by the heart to pump blood around the body.
Basically, the smartwatch monitors the time taken by blood vessels to reach from the heart to your wrist and then reflects the body’s blood pressure. This is how smartwatches measure the blood pressure of a human body.
While this technology is in its early stages, some smartwatches are already present in the market with blood pressure monitoring.
How Do Samsung & Fitbit Smartwatches Measure Blood Pressure Readings?
Brands like Samsung and Fitbit have already introduced smartwatches with blood pressure monitoring. At the same time, Apple Watch with blood pressure sensors is still under the development phase that we may see in 2022 models.
Talking about Samsung smartwatches, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active needs the My BP Lab app on your phone to check blood pressure. The watch uses the optical heart rate sensor to track the difference in pulse transit time. You will also need to use a standard blood pressure monitor with a cuff to calibrate the watch with initial readings. And, you will have to calibrate these readings with the standard blood pressure monitor every four weeks for better accuracy.
Samsung said, “the blood pressure app available for download to its devices—called My BP Lab—should not be used to diagnose high blood pressure but is for research purposes only.” Also, the users who use this app have to agree to join a study led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, who worked with Samsung to develop it.
On the other hand, Fitbit is running a trial to check if its latest smartwatches can measure blood pressure. It uses the Pulse Arriving Time (PAT) or Pulse Transit Time (PTT) method which measures how long it takes for the blood to reach a person’s wrist after the heart pumps.
In simple words, it is the same method that other smartwatch manufacturers generally use. However, Fitbit uses the ECG sensor to measure it, which is considered a more accurate sensor for heart variations tracking.
Should You Rely on Smartwatches to Measure Blood Pressure?
Now, the question that arises here is should you rely on smartwatches to measure blood pressure? Well, the answer to this question is not specific. Measuring blood pressure or any other health parameter accurately generally requires professional equipment.
The standard blood pressure monitors with a handcuff and digital blood pressure monitors track the blood movement closely. These monitors are also fast, reliable, and recommended by doctors for accurate data. Using a smartwatch to monitor blood pressure levels is still under development stage.
Smartwatches use the PAT or PTT method to track the time taken by the pulse to move from the heart to the wrist. Also, this method requires time to time calibration with standard blood pressure monitors. And, it is not so accurate as it can show more variation in readings frequently if the person is doing any intense activity.
The ECG smartwatches are more accurate as compared to smartwatches using optical heart rate sensors. For instance, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 has ECG and needs to be calibrated with digital BP machine readings.
Yet, doctors and researchers still suggest not to rely completely on smartwatches to monitor your blood pressure. You can use it to get a general idea about your blood pressure readings on daily basis.
Top Smartwatches with Blood Pressure Monitor
If you want to use a smartwatch to track your blood pressure level to get a general idea, you can look at the following list of smartwatches:
1. OMRON HeartGuide Smartwatch
The OMRON HeartGuide is a health-based smartwatch that is primarily made for accurate health tracking. This smartwatch can track blood pressure levels in only 30 seconds, and you can check variations in your BP with colored charts. It has a dedicated button to measure blood pressure instantly.
Also, it has an Oscillometric blood pressure cuff attached to the watch strap to measure the blood pressure accurately by tightening your wrist and stopping the blood circulation, similar to how a standard blood pressure monitor with a cuff works.
Check on Amazon: OMRON – HeartGuide Smart Watch Blood Pressure Monitor
2. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Samsung’s latest smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch 4 also comes with the blood pressure monitoring feature. It has ECG, SpO2, and continuous heart rate tracking.
This watch runs on Google’s Wear OS that provides access to all Google services. You can also download apps from the play store as the watch comes with 1.5GB RAM and 16GB ROM.
Note: The Blood Pressure Monitoring feature on the Galaxy Watch 4 is only available in a few countries, including Austria, UAE, UK, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Check on Amazon USA: Samsung Electronics Galaxy Watch 4
Check on Amazon India: Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Bluetooth
3. MorePro Fitness Activity Tracker
The MorePro Fitness Activity Tracker is a fitness band that comes with blood pressure monitoring. This fitness tracker comes with a 1.14″ IPS HD color display. It has ECG and PPG monitoring that tracks your heart health continuously giving accurate readings.
It also features HRV tracking and blood oxygen monitoring with a dedicated SpO2 sensor. You can call it a complete health tracking device that accurately shows all health-related data.
Check on Amazon USA: MorePro Heart Rate Monitor Blood Pressure Activity Tracker
Check on Amazon India: MorePro Fitness Activity Tracker with Blood Pressure
This was all about the blood pressure monitor in smartwatches, how it works, and should you rely on it or not. I hope you found this article informative, if yes then share it with your family and friends too. Stay tuned with WearablesToUse for the more informative content!
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