Fitness trackers can have a wide range of features designed to help keep your fitness goals in check. But while most of us tend to utilize them to count calories, track steps, and become some sort of guide to a healthy lifestyle, many include an added feature to help us understand our health even more: blood pressure monitors.
The National Institutes of Health says, “About 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, but many don’t realize it. High blood pressure is sometimes called a “silent killer” because it usually has no warning signs, yet it can lead to life-threatening conditions like a heart attack or stroke. The good news is that high blood pressure, or hypertension, can often be prevented or treated.”
Tracking blood pressure at home can help identify potential problems early. If you have blood pressure problems, home tracking can help monitor the effectiveness of medications and doctor-prescribed treatments. Blood pressure monitors on fitness trackers can encourage better daily habits like proper diet and exercise and result in fewer visits to doctors and clinics. This, of course, can lower health care costs.
It’s important to note that sometimes blood pressure readings taken at a doctor’s office may not tell the whole story. Those brief, in-person readings may not detect high blood pressure events related to situational stress or anxiety. Conversely, some people experience elevated stress during doctor visits that lead to higher than normal readings. Tracking at home can lead to a more accurate picture of blood pressure health.
Some pressure readings may be accurate, but there are certain caveats. According to the Mayo Clinic, when users wear monitors at the wrist, the wrist and arm should be at heart level for the most accurate reading. Because the arteries in the wrist are narrower and closer to the skin than those in the upper arm, readings may not be as precise as upper arm monitors.
It is a good idea to bring your wrist monitor along on a doctor’s visit so you can check its accuracy alongside a reading from your doctor’s equipment. This can help to verify the effectiveness of your device. And, of course, always use your wrist monitor according to the manufacturer’s instructions for best results
A person’s activities can affect the accuracy of the blood pressure monitor reading on a fitness tracker. They sometimes give incorrectly high readings during activities like running or walking, and inaccurately low readings during typing or using a computer mouse, possibly due to more frequent wrist movements. When the wearer stands still and keeps the wrist and arm at the heart level, the best readings occur.
Better accuracy using wrist monitors depends significantly on proper fit. Be sure your device of choice fits correctly to give the most accurate results.
We’ve pulled together a few solid recommendations on fitness trackers and smartwatches that can track blood pressure.
This device is the “first, clinically accurate wearable blood pressure monitor” approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A stylish and sleek smartwatch specifically tracks blood pressure data, essentially creating a new category of fitness-oriented smartwatches.
This attractive fitness tracker provides real-time information on heart rate and blood pressure connected to a phone app. With this tracker, it’s essential to keep the wrist extremely stable when taking a reading. Blood pressure is also related to getting adequate sleep, and this track comes with a sleep monitor, which is updated every 24 hours.
This is a comprehensive fitness tracker that does everything, including tracking blood pressure. It offers a full suite of health tracking options, including real-time heart rate, sleep monitoring, and more. Users can also get a personalized and detailed in-app report that gives you a full picture of your blood pressure and other health data.
This is a pretty traditional fitness tracker featuring a pedometer and calorie tracker. But it also utilizes state-of-the-art heart rate and blood pressure sensors that can give you timely data on the state of your health.
Tracking your blood pressure is a way to keep tabs on a critical aspect of your health in ways that are not only empowering but could be life-saving. According to a 2018 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Ambulatory BP monitoring allows getting BP readings several times a day, which is ideal to monitoring high blood pressure (hypertension), one of the greatest threats to the global burden of diseases, improving cardiovascular diseases prediction.”
So, thinking about the best ways to better understand your body may be just the key to putting your mind at ease and your data to work.