Earlier, the fitness bands only used to track calories burned, steps taken, sleep hours etc…
But, thanks to the advancements in the wearable technology, the fitness trackers can now track heart rate, blood pressure and even REM sleep.
So, it is now recommended by most doctors to wear the smart band with BP monitor in order to detect any heart problems and to get a clear data about your heart health.
How Does a Smart Band with Blood Pressure Monitor Work?
Most fitness trackers take automatic oscillometric reading once in the morning and again in the evening.
This automatic blood pressure readings consist of an electronic pressure sensor that is used to calculate the estimates of systolic and diastolic pressures.
Where are some fitness bands with BP monitor uses a Photoplethysmogram (PPG), a heart rate sensor that makes use of the pulse oximeter to measure any changes in the light absorption. For more accurate data, it uses ECG readings as well.
See: Types of Sensors in a Fitness Tracker
The only change here is that you don’t wear an inflatable cuff like in the dedicated blood pressure monitors.
How Reliable/Accurate is the BP Monitor equipped in a Fitness Band?
To be frank, the wearable blood pressure monitors are not 100% accurate when compared with the dedicated blood pressure monitors.
The reason being that the dedicated BP monitors take readings close to you heart whereas the fitness bands take readings from your wrist, a little away from the heart.
But, most of the time, if you carefully follow the instructions from your product guide, you’ll likely to get close to accurate readings.
Please note that a fitness tracker with blood pressure monitor integrated, though convenient, also has its own set of limitations.
How to Measure Your Blood Pressure using a Fitness Tracker?
There are many fitness bands in the market that measure blood pressure. However, the readings vary from device to device.
Here are a few tips to consider if you wanted to get correct readings (close to accuracy) using your smart band.
- Get familiar with the user manual that came with your device.
- Ensure your fit band has more than 50% battery before measuring your BP.
- Avoid drinking any tea, coffee or smoking before measuring.
- Just sit down, relax and don’t think about anything.
- Now, wear your tracker device but ensure it is not too tight or loose.
- Rest your arm on a flat surface with your upper arm at heart level. This will ensure you get a better reading.
- For more accurate data, measure your blood pressure twice or thrice and compare those readings to have a better idea.
- Now, check your results. If your blood pressure readings are:
- 90/60 or less – Low Blood Pressure
- 91/61 to 120/80 – Normal
- 121/80 to 129/80 – Slightly Elevated
- 130/80-89 to 139/80-89 – Stage 1 of High Blood Pressure
- 140/90 or higher – Stage 2 of High Blood Pressure
- 180 or higher – Hypertensive Crisis
Based on the type of your fitness tracker, you can check your blood pressure at any time or continuously.
So, it is advised to use the fitness band with blood pressure monitor only as a side-help and not as your main device, in case if you’re a high blood pressure patient. Whereas, others with slightly low or elevated blood pressure can use the device without any issues.