What future for Wearable blood pressure monitors?

blood pressure wearable

The increased prevalence of chronic diseases such as hypertension has changed how we eat, exercise and live. According to the CDC, nearly half of American adults (116 million) live with hypertension. Wearable blood pressure monitors are becoming more popular, as monitoring your levels is crucial.

As the technology grows, researchers are looking into less intrusive ways to measure blood pressure. For example, the advanced Samsung new Galaxy Watch 5 has optical heart rate sensors that measure wrist blood pressure. However, the downside is that users must still calibrate the feature frequently.

Wearable BP monitors offer a convenient and comfortable way to track blood pressure. However, some questions about their accuracy and long-term effectiveness still need to be answered.

In this blog post, we will look at the current state of wearable blood pressure monitors, their benefits, and what the future holds.

What Is a Wearable Blood Pressure Monitor?

A wearable blood pressure monitor (sphygmomanometer) is a device you can use to track your blood pressure. Today’s technology allows you to check your pressure from anywhere, anytime.

You can wear a wearable blood pressure monitor on the wrist or finger. In addition, you can connect some wearable blood pressure monitors to a mobile device such as a smartphone to store and track blood pressure readings.

How Does It Work?

A wearable blood pressure monitor uses optical signals such as photoplethysmography (PPG) or pulse arrival time (PAT) technologies to detect blood pressure. The PPG sensors shine light into the skin and measure the light reflected. The light reflected is affected by the blood flow beneath the skin, so the PPG sensor can measure the blood flow by measuring the amount of light that is reflected.

The PAT technology measures the time your pulse travels from one artery site to the next.

 These devices do not have a cuff, so they are more comfortable than cuff-style BP monitors because they do not exert too much pressure.

The wearable technology is different from the traditional BP monitors. The traditional devices use an inflatable cuff with a MEMS pressure sensor.

When the cuff inflates, it increases pressure on that part, restricting arterial blood flow. When the cuff deflates and pressure decreases, blood flow returns to systolic and diastolic pressures, which convert vibrations into electrical signals.

Accuracy and Reliability of Wearable Blood Pressure Monitors

Despite the increased use of wearable BP monitors, most people question their accuracy. The recommended BP monitor is the upper arm cuff-style monitor, which yields accurate results. According to Heart.org, wrist, and finger monitors do not provide accurate results meaning they are unreliable.

The gold standard for blood pressure measurement was the mercury sphygmomanometer. However, the technology was phased out due to mercury toxicity.

However, it’s good to note that some wearable blood pressure monitors are accurate. All you have to do is buy the device from a reliable and trusted company. Before you use the monitor, ensure your doctor looks at it and compares its results with the one in his office. In addition, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Note that the accuracy of blood pressure readings can depend on various factors such as movement and emotions. So don’t cancel your blood pressure appointments on the excuse of monitoring your blood pressure at home.

Advantages of Wearable Blood Pressure Monitors

Wearable blood pressure monitors have many advantages, especially for those with hypertension or other conditions that affect their blood pressure. Here are some benefits:

Convenience and Comfort

You can wear a wearable BP monitor to check your blood pressure anytime, anywhere. Whether doing your daily activities, exercising, or in bed, pressing one button on the device gives you an idea of your health.

In addition to convenience, wearable blood pressure monitors are comfortable to wear. For example, wearing a smartwatch that monitors your blood pressure is more comfortable than upper arm BP monitors. It’s also lightweight and adds to your aesthetic appeal. 

Continuous Monitoring

The device allows you to monitor your blood pressure continuously throughout the day. This can be helpful if you’re trying to manage a condition like hypertension. Furthermore, continuous monitoring provides a more comprehensive view of blood pressure patterns which is helpful to health providers.

Improved Blood Pressure Control

Some people experience increased anxiety at the doctor’s office. The anxiety can cause their blood pressure to increase, leading to white coat syndrome or white coat hypertension.

With white coat syndrome, getting correct blood pressure readings is hard. However, a wearable BP monitor helps you spot trends in your blood pressure in your home. Furthermore, you can track your progress to ensure it stays within a healthy range. This way, you can prevent many conditions when you control high blood pressure, such as cardiovascular and kidney diseases.

Integration With Mobile Devices

Wearable blood pressure monitors allow you to store your readings safely and retrieve them easily using a mobile app. This way, you can track your blood pressure data more conveniently.

Easy Sharing With HCPs

A wearable blood pressure monitor allows you to share your blood pressure readings once you sync them with your other devices. This allows you to share the data with your doctor or care team.

Furthermore, you can share the readings with your family, so they know about your health and what to do in an emergency.

Types of Wearable Blood Pressure Monitors

As wearable blood pressure monitors technology continues, the most popular type is still the wrist BP monitor.

Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor

This type of monitor can be worn on the wrist like a watch. For example, a wrist BP monitor is integrated with a smartwatch or fitness tracker. These devices are convenient for people who are always on the go since you can wear them throughout and be comfortable.

A wrist wearable blood pressure monitor is easier to use than the traditional one. Besides checking your blood pressure, this device can also measure your blood saturation (SpO2) levels, pulse rate (PR), and more. Excellent examples of wrist BP monitors are the Wearwiz BP Doctor and Galaxy Watch 5.

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Some wrist blood pressure monitors, such as the Galaxy Watch 5, can measure your blood pressure during sleep. They can also give you tips for good sleep habits.

Unlike wrist BP monitors with a cuff, the wearable option is light, meaning you can stay with it the whole day without weighing you down. However, wrist monitors are not always accurate, so choosing a reliable brand is crucial.

Skin Patch

This is a 24-hour blood pressure monitoring device. It’s considered more accurate than other technology and provides information-rich results. The skin patch uses reflective photoplethysmography (PPG) technology. It’s disposable after each use, making it expensive.

Finger Blood Pressure Monitor

The finger BP monitor is a cuff-style design that is commercially available. They include fino-meters and portapres, and they are a bit bulky.

A promising finger blood pressure monitor is the Valencell uncuffed finger BP monitor. Although it’s not yet available commercially, this device may be the future of blood pressure monitors.

Valencell uses photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors and a combination of the user’s characteristics (weight, height, gender, age) to measure blood pressure. Unfortunately, you can easily confuse this finger BP monitor with a finger pulse oximeter since they look the same.

This BP monitor requires no calibration, and it’s lightweight. As the Valencell finger blood pressure monitor awaits FDA approval, most people hope it will be more accurate than the wrist wearable BP monitors.

Wearable blood pressure monitors have continually improved health outcomes. However, as wearable technology advances, there is still hope that the devices will become more accurate than ever.

Challenges and Limitations of Wearable Blood Pressure Monitors

Even though wearable blood pressure monitors have many advantages, they still have some drawbacks.

Not Very Accurate

One of the main challenges with wearable blood pressure monitors is their accuracy. Blood pressure readings are crucial and must be accurate to prevent severe diseases. These devices often need to be more accurate compared to traditional blood pressure cuffs.

Needs Calibration

The wearable BP monitor needs calibration before using it, a critical aspect of blood pressure monitoring. This is done to ensure its set up depending on its user. In addition, some wearable devices may require regular calibration to maintain accuracy.

Battery Life

The battery life of a wearable blood pressure monitor can be limited, especially for those who use it to monitor blood pressure continuously. This means you’ll need to charge it more often, which can be inconvenient for those who need to wear the gadget for extended periods.

A Bit Expensive

Wearable BP monitors are often more affordable than traditional blood pressure cuffs. However, they are still expensive for some users, making them an option for some.

Some limitations also found in traditional BP monitors are also in wearable BP monitors. These may include:

  • Position: Your position when taking your BP will affect the readings. So ensure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Movement: Any movement made during blood pressure measurement will return incorrect results. Talking too can lead to inaccurate results.
  • Incorrect placement: Wrong placement of any blood pressure monitoring device will always give back incorrect readings. You can ask your care provider to teach you how to position it correctly.

Looking Ahead

Blood pressure is an important health metric, and wearable blood pressure monitors can help you keep track of your blood pressure levels. Gone are the days you had to go to a hospital for blood pressure measurement. Today, you can do this from the comfort of your bed. This helps improve your BP monitoring and store and share your health data quickly and safely. According to most Americans, wearable blood pressure monitors have helped them better monitor their health.

Wearable blood pressure monitor technology continues to advance. We have also seen contactless BP monitors, and more are coming. Experts also say cuffless blood pressure technology could be used in more hand-worn devices. Before choosing a wearable blood pressure monitor, talk to your health provider first to recommend a reliable brand.


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