Like many of you, I have high blood pressure, and I’m on medication to control it. I know that I should also keep track of it by regularly checking it, and lately I’ve been thinking about investing in a home blood pressure monitor (HBPM). If accurate, it would sure beat relying on the device at my local pharmacist, which was broken last time I was there. So, I dug around a bit to see where the tech’s at with HBPMs. Not surprisingly, Bluetooth’s available for many models, meaning that they wirelessly sync with the manufacturer’s blood pressure app on your smartphone.
One example is the $ 129.95 FDA-cleared Withings BP monitor. It’s been around a while and has been wireless since last spring. It now works with both Android and iOS devices. The app stores your BP data and offers the option to send it to your doctor, so no more writing down your daily numbers.
iHealth makes two wireless blood pressure monitors. The $ 99.95 BP5 features an upper arm cuff, and another, less expensive device – the $ 79.95 BP7 – straps to your wrist. (NOTE: the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends against wrist and finger monitors: “they yield less reliable readings.”) Both have been approved by the FDA. And, like the Withings, you can use them with either an Android or iOS device. The iHealth devices also send your results directly to your doctor.
A newer entrant to the BP monitor scene is the QardioArm, another FDA-cleared device, which went on sale last summer (it costs $ 99 to $ 119, depending on the color you select). “The QardioArm is a beautifully designed blood pressure cuff,” writes cardiologist Satish Misra, MD, in his review at iMedicalApps. However, he finds it does have limitations. For example, it does not offer an option to automatically share data with your physician. “The sharing functionality could be improved.”
But how accurate are these devices? The AHA recommends that consumers buy a device only if its accuracy has been validated by several independent testing organizations. At this point, only the iHealth BP5 turns up on the approved list. Does that mean you should ignore the others? Not necessarily. The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests that you talk to your doctor and ask him or her to test your preferred device against the clinic’s sphygmomanometer. That’s what I plan to do when I finally make a decision and buy one. And speaking of doctors, remember that even if you do find an HPBM you’re happy with, it’s not a substitute for regular visits to your doctor.
Have you used a wireless HBPM? What’s been your experience with ease of use and accuracy? What’s your favorite feature?