How Does a Fitness Watch Measure Blood Pressure?
When I first started getting into wearables, I was overwhelmed by all the things watches and trackers could do. They monitor your heart rate, measure how many calories you’ve burned, track your steps and even encourage you to get moving.
Then I found a watch that tracks blood pressure. My family has a history of high blood pressure, like so many other people, and I wanted a convenient way to keep track of my levels wherever, whenever. A fitness tracker with blood pressure monitor seemed like the perfect solution.
While I was confident that a fitness tracker could monitor your blood pressure, I wanted to know how it worked. I know you’re probably asking the same question. Let’s explore how fitness watches measure blood pressure and whether or not they are accurate.
Do Fitness Trackers Track Blood Pressure?
Do any fitness trackers track blood pressure? Yes, some fitness trackers can and do track your blood pressure.
Other watches can only track your heart rate and calories. But the better-quality fitness watches will use special technology to check your blood pressure and may even send you alerts if it’s out of the normal, healthy range.
How Does a Fitness Watch Measure Blood Pressure?
When I first heard about wearables that track blood pressure, I was skeptical. How can a watch possibly measure your blood pressure? When you go to the doctor, you have to go through the whole process of having a cuff wrapped around your arm and using a pump to get your reading.
But as it turns out, there are a few different ways watches can take your blood pressure.
I was surprised to learn that there are some fitness wearables that use an inflatable cuff to measure your blood pressure – just like in the doctor’s office.
The big difference here is that there isn’t a pump. Instead, the watch wearable takes instant oscillometric readings in the mornings and evenings. Some watches allow you to program when you want to take your readings, but most will do them automatically just after you wake up and right before bed.
The most common type of watch that keeps track of blood pressure uses sensors to measure and track this important vital. But how can sensors measure your blood pressure?
Most watches will use photoplethysmography (PPG) and electrocardiogram (EKG) sensors to calculate your blood pressure. There’s no inflatable cuff. These devices rely solely on sensors.
The popular KoreTrak fitness watch uses sensors, and that’s a big part of the reason why I love it so much. The inflatable cuffs can be really uncomfortable. With KoreTrak, I never notice that it’s taking a reading.
EKG checks your blood pressure, while PPG measures your heart rate.
Taking a reading is really easy, too. Just hold your finger on the sensor for about 15-20 seconds, and you can view your blood pressure reading.
In addition to sensors and cuffs, some fitness watches have manual trackers. With manual tracking, the device doesn’t actually perform a blood pressure reading. You will need to get your blood pressure checked by your doctor, and then you can view the results from the tracker.
Some will also allow you to enter your readings after a doctor’s appointment through an app. The app will keep a log of your readings, so you can keep track of your blood pressure levels over time.
Fitness Tracker Blood Pressure Accuracy
Having an activity tracker with blood pressure is convenient. I love having the option of checking my blood pressure when I’m on the go. But like you, I was curious about the accuracy of my readings.
Was I really getting a clear picture of my blood pressure, or were my readings useless?
The good news is that these blood pressure monitors can be accurate. The bad news? They can be really sensitive to your body’s position. So, I recommend making sure that you’re in the right position and that you follow the directions carefully for taking blood pressure readings.
What is the right position? Mayoclinic recommends putting your wrist and arm at heart level.
Keep in mind that blood pressure readings taken at the wrist are usually higher than those taken at the top of the arm because the arteries in your wrist are narrower.
Another thing I would recommend is waiting until you can connect to Wi-Fi to take your reading. If you don’t get a good signal in your bedroom or the kitchen (the most common places to take readings in the morning and evening), it may be worth buying a booster to boost your Wi-Fi network signal. This way, you can take readings from anywhere in the house.
What are the Benefits of Having a Smart Watch That Tracks Blood Pressure?
Your blood pressure tells you a lot of things about your health. Being able to measure and monitor your levels using your smartwatch can have many benefits:
Accurate if Done Properly
Fitness trackers do deliver accurate blood pressure readings if you take your reading properly. The watch should have detailed instructions on how to take a reading and which position will give you the most accurate results.
Keep Track of Your Health
High blood pressure readings could be an indication of heart problems or other medical conditions. Being able to measure your blood pressure on-the-go will help you keep track of your health and see your doctor (if necessary) before the problem escalates.
Having the ability to measure your blood pressure right on your wrist is convenient. As long as you are connected and in the right position, you can take a blood pressure reading from anywhere.
Allows You to Stay Active
If you choose a waterproof fitness tracker with blood pressure monitor, like Koretrak, you can monitor your blood pressure even after a swim workout. Plus, a fitness watch will keep track of other important stats, like your heart rate and calories burned, to help you reach your fitness goals.
Fitness watches can do so many things, and with the right model, you can even monitor your blood pressure. Just make sure that you choose a quality watch.
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