We review the wireless Blood Pressure Monitor from Withings - a stylish iOS and Android accessory that could save your life...
Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor
Ease of Use
A healthy winner
An exceptional health accessory for your smartphone
The WIthings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor is a solidly build piece of kit comprising a cuff that wraps around your upper arm attached a slim stainless steel cylinder containing the electronic gubbins, batteries and a power on button.
But this deceptively simple smartphone accessory could save your life.
The set-up is pretty straightforward. Take the monitor out of the box and press the power button until the green light illuminates. Connect to the device over Bluetooth. Download the Withings Health Mate app for iOS or Android and you’re ready to rumble.
But taking your own blood pressure is a tricky business. You have to be sitting down, completely relaxed with your arm at rest on a table and with the cuff of the monitor attached to your upper arm approximately in line with your heart.
Got all that? Thankfully, the Health Mate app takes you through this process with an easy-to-follow, step-by-step visual guide.
Once you’re rested and ready, you push the Start button on the app and the monitor kicks into life. The cuff starts inflating with air and rapidly compressing your upper arm to a surprising extent. At this point you realise that this is a serious medical measuring instrument, not a plaything or a toy.
The cuff then slowly deflates, beeping all the time while the app shows a pressure reading – measured in mg/A – counting down. When the sequence ends and the cuff is fully deflated, the app shows 2 figures, in my most recent measurement 128 and 89, which marks the systolic and diastolic blood pressure respectively.
The higher systolic figure shows the blood pressure when your heart is beating while the lower diastolic pressure is the pressure in your blood vessels between beats. The actual figures are recorded in mmHg – milligrams of mercury – which dates backs to the time when blood pressure monitors used mercury to get accurate readings.
Alongside each of the figures is a colour-coded blob which gives you an instant indicator of what your blood pressure indicates. If your result is within normal limits the colour is a reassuring green. If you’re slightly over, it becomes a worrying orange. Should your pressure be too high, the colour turns a quite frankly terrifying red.
Of course, this traffic light scheme is just a very basic indicator of your current health based on your blood pressure, based on guidelines provided by the European Society of Hypertension and the American Heart Association.
The Withings app tracks your readings over time so you can see the effect of lifestyle changes on your blood pressure. For instance when I first used the monitor, on January 2, I had been over-indulging quite consistently over Christmas. My blood pressure reflected this, with a reading of 135 over 106. I then spend the next week exercising regularly while monitoring my eating and avoiding alcohol. On January 8 my blood pressure was back within the recommended levels at 114 over 88.
(Note: it’s always worth taking several blood pressure readings at a time in order to stop outlier results. For instance, for some people the stress caused by the process of taking a blood pressure reading can lead to rapid heart rate and an increased blood pressure. To counteract this the monitor has an Automatic mode that takes 3 consecutive readings and displays the average on the app’s timeline.)
And this is where health accessories like the Withings Blood Pressure Monitor really excel. By providing a relatively accurate snapshot of your body’s current state, it can provide the impetus for people to make meaningful changes to their lifestyle and behaviour. And that is a genuine force for good.
By coincidence I also had a regular checkup with my doctor during the course of the review during which she took my blood pressure with a professional instrument – the result was within a couple of points of my most recent reading with the Withings. She was pleased that the use of the monitor had led me to restrict my alcohol intake and exercise more, remarking it was something she’d noticed among patients who’d started using similar devices.
With that in mind, it becomes very hard not to recommend the Withings Blood Pressure Monitor for someone with even the slightest interest in staying healthy. It’s a rugged, well built piece of kit that works exactly as advertised.
The Withings Health Mate software is exceptionally easy to use and provides a visual indicator of changes to your blood pressure and heart rate over time. It syncs with Apple’s Health app so your data can be accessed in a variety of different ways should you choose.
The software also interfaces with other Withings products such as the WS-35 smart scales and the Activité Steel fitness tracker so it can become a one-stop shop for all your health and exercise information.
To sum up, £89.95 is a small price to pay for an accessory that could change your life for the better. Thoroughly recommended.
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