Close to half of all adults in the United States suffer from high blood pressure, increasing their risk for heart attack and stroke. Unfortunately, many people aren't aware that they have high blood pressure, but detecting hypertension early on can prevent the development of cardiovascular disease. For this reason, many people choose to monitor their blood pressure daily with wearable smart devices, such as blood pressure watches.
Wearable blood pressure devices, such as watches, are marketed as an easy way to help you monitor your blood pressure at home. However, as a doctor, I caution against relying on wrist or finger monitors because they can provide unreliable results. If you'd like to monitor your blood pressure at home, I recommend using an upper arm cuff device.
At Home Monitors
Digital arm cuff monitors and some wrist monitors include a cuff that inflates with air and tightens. Once deflated, a blood pressure reading will appear on the screen. Digital arm monitors are equipped with a cuff that wraps around the arm just above the elbow, and many digital blood pressure watches have a cuff that wraps around the wrist. Some wrist devices use a special sensor instead of an inflatable cuff to measure your blood pressure.
Both devices measure two types of blood pressure: systolic pressure, which is the top number, and diastolic pressure, which is the bottom number.
- Systolic blood pressure: the pressure exerted when the heart beats. It measures the force of the blood as it moves through the arteries.
- Diastolic blood pressure: the pressure from blood flow in the arteries between heartbeats.
Why Are Arm Cuff Monitors the Better Option?
The American Heart Association recommends arm cuff blood pressure monitors that fit around your upper arm, like the OMRON Blood Pressure Monitor, Upper Arm Cuff. A cuff-style blood pressure monitor, like OMRON's Blood Pressure Monitor, Upper Arm Cuff, is more accurate and reliable than one that attaches to your finger or wrist. This is why doctors and healthcare providers use an upper arm cuff when they take your blood pressure.
When you use a wrist blood pressure monitor, you may not get accurate readings because the arteries are narrower and closer to the surface of your skin in your wrist than they are in your upper arm. This can cause your blood pressure readings to be elevated. In addition, wrist blood pressure monitors are more sensitive to your body's position than arm cuff monitors. Your arm should be elevated so the cuff is somewhat level with your heart to get a precise reading. This can be more difficult to do with a wrist monitor than with an upper arm cuff monitor. Since human error can play a role, it's important to follow instructions closely. There are also other factors that can cause elevated readings. For instance, whether or not your legs are crossed when you take your blood pressure, or even the time of day, can impact your blood pressure. To learn more about how blood pressure can fluctuate throughout the day, check out: Is Blood Pressure Higher in the Morning?
I do not recommend using fingertip monitors, as these have a reputation for producing unreliable results.
While taking your blood pressure at home can be convenient, it's still very important for you to get your blood pressure checked by a trained healthcare professional, especially if you suffer from hypertension.
If You're Considering A Wrist Device:
Even though an upper arm cuff monitor is the most recommended option for measuring blood pressure, a wearable wrist monitor is a reasonable alternative if you are unable to use an upper arm cuff monitor. If a cuff-style monitor is uncomfortable on your upper arm or you have a medical condition that makes an upper arm device unsafe or painful, you may want to consider a blood pressure watch to monitor your blood pressure between visits to your doctor. If you've determined this is the right option for you, it's important to find the right device based on your needs.
With all the watches on the market, it can be difficult to determine which wrist device is best for you. When choosing a blood pressure watch, you'll want to consider accuracy, price, availability, and overall comfort. Many watches on the market produce unreliable results, which can cause confusion. Therefore, I've chosen watches considered among the most accurate. I've also included watches at different price points, as my top pick is quite expensive.
If you're on a budget, you'll want to be careful not to sacrifice functionality for affordability. You should be aware that many watches get positive reviews because of other features, such as the camera feature, ability to sync music, text capabilities, and the fitness tracker. This can be deceiving, as the blood pressure monitor might not be reliable. Therefore, the watch might receive an above-average review because users are happy with the overall functionality. Comfort is another concern since some watches can be big and bulky. It's important to find a watch you're comfortable wearing, especially at night, so you'll continue using it.
Omron is a trusted name in the medical field, and the Omron HeartGuide was the first wearable blood pressure monitor on the market. This device is one of the only FDA-approved blood pressure watches recommended by doctors and pharmacists nationwide. The Omron HeartGuide allows you to keep track of your blood pressure over time and evaluate your readings through the free Omron Connect app. Along with monitoring your blood pressure, the Omron watch monitors your heart rate, sleep cycle, and activity (steps) throughout the day. The watch is available in two sizes with an adjustable band. Like some other blood pressure watches, it works by using an inflatable cuff embedded inside the watchband that fills with air when you want to take your blood pressure. You can receive calls, texts, emails, and notifications, but it has fewer features than other multifaceted watches on the market. However, as a general rule of thumb, it's best to choose a watch designed specifically for measuring blood pressure over other watches that have the blood pressure monitor as an added feature.
Before purchasing this device, some things to consider include the watch's bulkiness, the inability to dim the screen, the short battery life, and the price. The Omron HeartGuide watch costs $499, which is considerably more than many other watches on the market. However, unlike other blood pressure watches, The Omron HeartGuide is approved by the FDA as a medical device. Some users have complained about inaccurate readings. However, keep in mind that some of the inaccuracies may be due to human error. Therefore, if you decide to purchase this watch, it's very important that you follow the instructions carefully. Even though it can be bulkier than some of the other products on the market, users still report that it is lightweight.
The FitVII Smartwatch is one of the most affordable watches featuring a blood pressure monitor on the market. The FitVII Smartwatch is similar to traditional Apple or Garmin Smart Watch in that it offers an array of functions, including a fitness tracker with 7 sports modes, a weather tracker, reminders to hydrate and exercise, an alarm clock, a sleep tracker, the ability to sync with music through Bluetooth, and a feature that allows you to receive text or call notifications. It even measures your body temperature and blood oxygen levels. Like most smart watches, the FitVII Smartwatch measures your heart rate and connects to your phone through an app so you can track your progress. It's also waterproof, safe to swim with, and has a camera feature. In addition, it offers a tracker for women who would like to monitor their cycles. It certainly has all of the bells and whistles at an affordable price, but without sacrificing functionality. Customers love that it has a long battery life of 7 days, isn't bulky, and is very comfortable to wear. It uses a sensor instead of an inflatable cuff to measure your blood pressure.
Some users reported that the small screen was difficult to read, while others reported that the blood pressure monitor was not as accurate as expected. This is a common occurrence with wrist blood pressure monitors. Its overall accuracy rating may be higher than normal due to the other functions. Finally, many users also found the notifications disruptive.
Like the Fit VII, the Popglory Smart Watch is affordable and offers a number of features, including a blood oxygen monitor, fitness tracker, heart rate monitor, and text and app notifications. In addition, it has a timer, stopwatch, find my phone feature, sleep tracker, sedentary reminder, music control, and weather display. Like the Fit VII, it has 7 sports modes to help you reach your fitness goals. This watch has a companion app, HeroBandⅢ, which allows you to monitor your progress and understand changes related to your heart rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels. Users love that it is comfortable and also very affordable, at just $36.99.
Like the other blood pressure watches, it gets mixed reviews on accuracy. Though the overall accuracy rating is decent, this may be because customers are pleased with the other features, such as the fitness tracker. Some users reported that the watch face is small and difficult to read, while others reported that it didn't hold a charge very well.
If you are concerned about your blood pressure, you should discuss a treatment plan with your doctor. For tips on ways to manage your blood pressure, check out 9 Ways to Improve Heart and Cardiovascular Health Naturally. At-home blood pressure monitors can help you reach your goals, but they don't replace a medical-grade monitor administered by a trained healthcare provider. If you choose to monitor your blood pressure at home between doctor's visits, I recommend using an arm cuff blood pressure monitor, such as OMRON's Blood Pressure Monitor, Upper Arm Cuff. However, if you can't wear an arm cuff monitor, a wrist monitor is a sensible alternative. If you're concerned about the accuracy of your readings, I recommend bringing your watch with you to your next doctor's visit so you can compare your readings with your doctor's readings.
About the Author
Dr. Giampapa is a world-renowned medical doctor, inventor, and surgeon specializing in anti-aging medicine. He recently received a nomination for the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking stem cell research, as well as the Edison Award for the Healthycell nutritional supplement for cell health. He was also awarded the A4M Science & Technology award for his development of the BioMarker Matrix Profile – the first computer program to measure aging.