Withings is going all-in on consumer healthcare - they have everything from fitness trackers, scales and thermometers to ECG-enabled watches and the BP monitors. Here I look at the BPM Connect, their wirelessly connected BPM Connect Wi-Fi Smart Blood Pressure Monitor.
BPM Connect is a blood pressure monitor that allows you to take systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings at home, as well as heart rate measurements and synchronise this data to your Withings account. You can easily see the data directly on the BPM Connect at the time of the reading so you don't need to access your Withings account to check results - this data will always be available on-line and you can access historical information either via their website or using the Health Mate app.
Setup is pretty easy and the instructions are clear - you will need to use the Health Mate app to link your BPM Connect to your account, as well as set WiFi password to allow it to connect to the network. If WiFi is not an option any collected data can be synchronised via Bluetooth - in which case your smartphone running the Health Mate app will receive the data and upload to their server.
The BPM Connect looks very similar to the cuff you would usually see being used at practices/pharmacies. The interface is really simple, consisting of a LED-based display, a button that turns the device on/off and initiates measurements and a USB port to recharge its battery. It weighs about 250g
Measurements can be done very easily - even by yourself. You should be rested (instructions recommend five minutes), sitting down in a comfortable position. You fit the cuff around your left upper arm with the tube positioned against your inner arm and fasten it in place.
You push the button to turn the BPM Connect on. At this point you can set it to run a single measurement or a triple measurement with a long push on the button - the display will show the current setting. You can now push the button to start the measurement.
You will feel the cuff inflating. From my experience, it actually feels like inflating a bit more than I remember when my GP does a manual measurement - not painful but you will feel the pressure. Don't be alarmed at this point. It will automatically stop and start deflating when the measurement is taken.
Results are immediately shown on the device itself following a colour code scheme based on the American Heart Association - it will show green for Optimal and Normal results, amber for High Normal or Grade 1 Hypertension and red for Grade 2 Hypertension and Grade 3 Hypertension. The numbers can be a little different from what your GP or pharmacist might report to you. According to the manual, this can be due to different location, stress situation or actual BP changes. Also, consider the specifications suggest an accuracy of +- 3 mmHg (2%) of the reading.
You don't have to do anything to have the data synchronised to your Withings account and you can see the numbers on the Health Mate app almost instantly, as well as previous readings. The BPM Connect will store up to eight separate readings if it can't immediately connect to a WiFi network or your smartphone via Bluetooth.
The app also makes it easier to share these readings with your doctor if needed - you just need to enter your doctor's email address and the app will send an Excel file with the measurements for a select period of time.
The BPM Connect can be associated with multiple users (each with their own account) and can also be used by guests - once a measurement is taken you can push the button to cycle through the users (or until you reach Guest). Guest results aren't uploaded or sent to the app and you can't see other users results.
The main benefit you get from the BPM Connect is the ability to perform these reading at home, with an FDA-cleared device, without having to involve other people or having to leave the house. It can be used to monitor BP and heart rate when associated with medication to validate the course of treatment recommended by your doctor. Results can also be seen in association with other measurements from the wide Withing health ecosystem - exercise trackers, ECG watch, scales, etc giving your GP an overview on how your health condition is tracking.
The battery life can last up to six months between recharges, which is done via a micro-USB cable.
The Withings BPM Connect is available in New Zealand online and retail stores.