The Apple Watch is undoubtedly one of the best smartwatches available on the market and has been for a long time.
The recent presentation of the Apple Watch Series 7 finally put an end to the numerous rumors about the new healthcare capabilities of this new iteration.
Many rumors but few changes
We all expected the new Apple Watch to include some long-awaited and sometimes unrealistic features such as:
On August 1st, Nikkei Asia even blamed the production delays on adding a blood pressure monitor. But, unfortunately, most of the rumors proved false.
The Cupertino firm is famous for its perfectionism and does not release half-baked features. It may be frustrating for Nerd users just like us who always strive for innovation. Somehow, it is reassuring that the consumers know that the Apple Watch always includes robustly tested, FDA-cleared, healthcare-related functions.
We will still have to wait for the Apple Watch to become a blood pressure watch. However, even if blood pressure measurement is still not possible independently, there are somehow ways to connect your Apple Watch to an external blood pressure monitor and ultimately get the best of the two worlds.
The gold standard to check for high blood pressure is to use an inflatable cuff. However, some companies, such as Omron with its HeartGuide or YHE with the BP Doctor, brilliantly succeeded in combining a cuff to a smartwatch form factor.
Unfortunately, one of the decisive factors of the Apple Watch is its versatility when it comes to the interchangeable bracelets making it nearly impossible to include an inflatable cuff. Sometimes, a choice needs to be made between being a medical device or a fashion accessory.
We do not blame Apple for that, though, as Photoplethysmography is becoming a reliable method for blood pressure monitoring.
To date, the only way to measure blood pressure is to use an external device and to pair it with the Apple Watch. It will, of course, reduce the portability but will improve the accuracy of the measures.
Pairing a blood pressure monitor to your Apple Watch
When deciding to turn your Apple Watch into a Blood Pressure control center, you will have two choices.
The first one is to use a blood pressure monitor with a dedicated app optimized for the Apple Watch, allowing controlling the device remotely. The Qardio Smart Blood Pressure Monitor and the Withings Blood Pressure Monitor are solid choices.
The second one is to synchronize the blood pressure measurements with your iPhone Apple Health App. and check the results on your watch.
Both options have their merits and drawbacks, but it opens a numerous range of options and choices.
QardioArm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor
QardioArm by Qardio
Price when reviewed: $99.00
QardioArm was the first company to provide a dedicated app to control its wireless blood pressure monitor.
The Qardio heart health app is available both for the iPhone or the AppleWatch. It offers to control the QardioArm Smart Blood Pressure monitor directly from your wrist and automatically synchronize the diastolic blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, and heart rate.
The QardioArm received clearance in the United States, the European Economic Area, Australia, and Canada.
Using the QardioArm in combination with the Apple Watch is very simple. Once paired via Bluetooth, the blood pressure monitor will automatically inflate when pressing the Apple Watch’s green button.
The data are automatically stored in the cloud for easy access. There is no need to be concerned about your data privacy, as the Qardio app cloud is HIPAA compliant.
The QardioArm Blood Pressure monitor goes beyond simply monitoring your blood pressure and will also integrate an algorithm to detect atrial fibrillation. In our opinion, this feature is interesting to get a second opinion when using the already built-in Afib capabilities of the Apple Watch.
Withings BPM Connect
BPM Connect by Withings
Price when reviewed:$99.95
The Withings BPM Connect is not only FDA-cleared and stylish, but it also comes with the Withings Health Mate app that is available for the Apple Watch.
The app allows the launch of the BPM Connect (wired) from the Apple Watch. Once recorded, the blood pressure measurements will be automatically stored in the secure Withings Health Cloud and available through the smartwatch companion app.
The BPM Connect has a great design that will fit perfectly with your devices. Still, more than that, the device is part of the US Blood Pressure Validated Device Listing maintained by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago (NORC).
This organization is in charge of selecting and validating the quality and accuracy of the Blood Pressure Monitors sold in the United States. Selecting one of the devices on their list ensures that they have been independently validated and are compliant with the standards of the American Medical Association (AMA.)
To wrap up
Even though the Apple Watch does not yet offer the possibility to track your blood pressure directly independently of an external blood pressure monitor, it offers many helpful health features such as its FDA-Cleared Electrocardiogram to detect Atrial Fibrillation, its blood oxygen level, sleep tracking, and so many others.
Relying on an external inflatable cuff device will ensure that the readings are accurate and reliable when monitoring hypertension.
The Apple Watch Series 8 will most probably include a sensor-based blood pressure monitoring feature. However, even though it will most certainly be helpful, it is critical to remember that none of the blood pressure smartwatches relying on the Plethysmography technology has been approved by the American Medical Association Blood Pressure Monitoring List.
When looking for a smartwatch to monitor blood pressure, always remember that the results will be informative and not replace a more standard upper-arm blood pressure measurement.