AWT Health Club: Withings Blood Pressure Monitor

This week for the AWT Health Club column we'll take a look at a vital piece of the overall cardiovascular health picture -- blood pressure. Since June of 2011 I have used a Withings Blood Pressure Monitor (US$129.95, affiliate link) to keep tabs on my blood pressure. My family has a history of high blood pressure, so the Blood Pressure Monitor and the companion Withings Health Mate app (free) have been a great way for me to capture my BP readings on a regular basis for almost four years now.

Withings Blood Pressure Monitor

When I got my Withings Blood Pressure Monitor, it was a wired unit that had a 30-pin connector on the end of a cable coming out from the bottom of the blood pressure cuff. It's now wireless, using Bluetooth to send your readings to the app on your iPhone. If you're having issues with Bluetooth, there's still a way to connect via a cable. I use a 30-pin to Lightning adapter that makes using my "antique" device a snap. 

To take my BP, I start by wrapping the Velcro™ covered cuff around one of my arms just above the elbow with the electronics module (a round aluminum cylinder) aligned with the veins in my art. With my cuff, I plug the Lightning cable into my iPhone and launch the Withings Health Mate app, which responds by displaying a screen for blood pressure. With a tap of a start button, the app inflates the cuff and takes the reading, displaying the diastolic and systolic pressures as well as my heart rate in beats per minute. 

The app can also be set up to take three readings in quick succession -- I find this to be quite useful as my blood pressure is usually higher on the first reading and lower on the next two. In this case, the app records an average reading. 

What's great about doing this on a regular basis is that I can look at my overall trend for four years and see that although my pressure is trending slightly upward, it's still in the acceptable range. If my primary care physician ever wants to see a history of my BP other than the one that she has for each visit, I can easily email her a text file or Excel (.xlsx) spreadsheet with all of the readings. The BP readings are also shared with Apple's Health App, which oddly enough doesn't display the readings as a trend line. 

With blood pressure and other readings, the two things you want are accuracy and repeatability. I have found that the Withings Blood Pressure Monitor isn't accurate -- it always shows my blood pressure as "slightly high" -- but that it has always shown the readings that way so that the results are repeatable. Based on readings taken by my primary care and other physicians, I know not to worry about those readings.

While WIthings was the pioneer, there are a number of other connected blood pressure monitors on the market at this time including the iHealth BP-7 ($57.99) and Omron 10 Series Wireless ($64.99). If you're serious about your health, one of these devices is really a great way to keep an eye on a key indicator of your cardiovascular health.

Health Club Members!

Rather than having to post your progress (or in my case, the lack thereof) on the Apple World Today Facebook page, I’ve created a group that’s strictly set up for us. You’ll need to be invited to the group; please use the email button on the right sidebar to send me the email address you use for Facebook so I can invite you.

My weekly stats:

  • Weight: 194.6 lbs
  • Change from last week: -2.5 lbs 
  • Steps taken each day: M-2445,T-2171, W-1651, TH-2871, F-5623, SA-1852, SU-4576 *
  • Average steps per day last week: 3027 (+840 from previous week)

Let’s hear how you did! Let’s get moving!