Monitoring blood pressure has been cumbersome and uncomfortable. The device this article focuses upon has changed that. Before explaining how the iHealth Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor works, some background information as to why this device is important.
When you visit a doctor, they routinely wrap your arm in a cuff which squeezes real tight. They are measuring your blood pressure an important indication of your health. Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels. During each heartbeat, blood pressure varies between a maximum (systolic) and a minimum (diastolic) pressure. The two numbers are often shown as 120/80, which is considered optimal blood pressure for younger people.
World Health Organization guideline for high blood pressure
Last week, the threshold for what is considered hypertension (a.k.a. high blood pressure) has been shifted a bit for us older folks. The older you get the more important blood pressure information is for knowing about your heart health. I started paying more attention to my blood pressure about five years ago. Throughout my family?s history we have heart-related problems that is why this device interested me. To get those readings I had been using a nationally-known upper arm-cuff blood pressure monitor with a large desktop display.
Last fall, I went into the hospital for 5-way-bypass surgery (a.k.a. coronary artery bypass graft surgery – also called CABG, or "cabbage"). The results have been a great success. So blood pressure readings are definitely now a part of my daily routine.
My cardiologist asked me to chart my daily readings. I convert them into weekly averages and monthly averages. I give him my results at my twice yearly checkups. Before the iHealth device and application, I had to type those daily readings into a document.
This fall, I went to Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular digital showcase in San Francisco where I meet the folks from iHealth Labs who have an interesting line of wireless health and fitness products.
We talked about their Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor that goes on your wrist. They asked if I would be interested in an evaluation unit. Of course, I said Yes, if I could do a several month test and compare results to my older upper arm-cuff blood pressure monitor.
USB charging cable, wireless blood pressure monitor, compact carrying case, and HTC One smartphone
Their mobile app, called iHealth MyVitals, is available for both Apple and Android mobile devices for their wireless products, ended the tedious manual recording I?d been doing. The apps will upload your data to iHealth?s private cloud which can display the wireless blood pressure monitor?s data in five different file formats. The different formats can be shared with your family or your doctor via email or printouts. The app also lets you track multiple users across iHealth?s different devices. The apps are free from Apple?s App Store or Google Play store.
The first thing I noticed about iHealth?s Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor was the good looking rounded, white and clear hard plastic carrying box. The wireless monitor has a fabric, Velcro-adjustable cuff that wraps around your wrist with 3 ½ inches of expandability, which accommodates large wrists.
You can slip the carrying case with the monitor into your coat pocket and take them with you.
The monitor uses Bluetooth 3.0 to wirelessly transmit the blood pressure readings to the Apple or Android mobile app in your smartphones. The monitor?s batteries are rechargeable with the USB cable. I was taking blood pressure readings at least twice a day and sometimes three or four reading per session. I was surprised when the small wrist monitor lasted 31 days on a single battery charge.
The iHealth Wireless Monitor fits snugly around your wrist.
A micro USB port is on one edge of the wrist monitor with a yellow start/stop button on the other edge. The monitor will start when you wrap it around your wrist and a Bluetooth logo glows. Or, by pressing the yellow start/stop button the Bluetooth logo again glows through the monitor?s white top surface.
There is a 3-axis accelerometer inside the monitor that helps you adjust your arm?s angle for proper measurement. The iHealth MyVitals app has easy to follow step-by-step graphical instructions.
Below are a few of the screens from the Android application loaded onto an HTC One smartphone.
Below, shows how far to correctly position the monitor from your slightly bent wrist.
The 3-axis accelerometer sends arm position data to the app shown below. The monitor continues to send positioning data until you have moved your arm in the correct position as shown below.
The application screen below shows you the final position for your wrist to ensure correct readings.
Then the wireless blood pressure monitor activates the pneumatic pump and starts tightening the Velcro strap on your wrist while the app displays the pressure. This time the HTC One, shown below, is encased in an Otterbox Defender case.
There is one of the iHealth MyVitals private cloud presentations of your blood pressure data which is simply a listing of numbers down a page. That is the most traditional way blood pressure readings are presented. Since most people have a clear understanding of a graphical presentation of comparative data, there are four different graphical formats.
Below, are my blood pressure readings showing that I am in the mild hypertension range most of the time. However, sometimes I drop into the lowest percentile and just as often I am in the highest percentile.
The fluctuations shown above are why you really should take your blood pressure on a regular basis and record the results. With iHealth MyVitals app and their private cloud your readings are available at any time. The five different formats they are presented in will help you and your doctors easily understand your blood pressure readings.
Accuracy and consistency are important with any home blood pressure device. The iHealth Wireless Blood Pressure Wrist Monitor has obtained CE medical certification (Europe) as well as FDA approval (USA). The monitor also has obtained ESH (European Society of Hypertension) Certification.
I regularly compared the iHealth Wireless Blood Pressure Wrist Monitor readings to my upper arm-cuff blood pressure monitor. The readings were always within 2 points of the maximum (systolic) and minimum (diastolic) pressures when comparing devices. Next, I took the wireless blood monitor with me to different physicians that look after my health. The results were very similar to their in-office testing.
I found websites that priced the iHealth Wireless Blood Pressure Wrist Monitor at less than the MSRP (manufacturer?s suggested retail price) of $79.95. Upper arm cuff units are in the $100 to $150 range.
I carry the wireless unit with me whenever I travel and it will be with me at CES 2014 next month in Las Vegas. iHealth will have two booth locations at CES, stop by and see their benificial wireless health and fitness products.
I recommend the iHealth Wireless Blood Pressure Wrist Monitor as a must have device for any family that is concerned about their members? blood pressure readings.
Special thanks to both Joe Mascardo at Mighty PR and Kate Medcalf for helping with the iHealth evaluation unit. Kate Medcalf invited BSN to Pepcom?s CES 2014 technology showcase and BSN will bring you information about new products we see there.