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With the rising cost of health care in the U.S., it’s no surprise that a small cottage industry has popped up for gadgets that allow us to skip costly doctor visits and monitor our health from home. One of the more intriguing devices is the Withings Blood Pressure Monitor, a $129 solution for tracking weight, fat/lean mass, BMI, heart rate, and blood pressure daily through an iOS device.
Keep tabs on your numbers, without paying for a doctor visit.
The Withings Blood Pressure Monitor includes an adjustable sleeve for arms ranging from 9 to 17 inches in circumference, and sports a bit more style than the one at your doctor’s office. Attached to the sleeve is a cylindrical air pump and two-foot dock connector cable. If you’re skeptical that a battery-powered (four AAA, included) monitor can do the job as well as the real thing, don’t be—the Blood Pressure Monitor is accurate to within two percent.
After downloading the free companion WiScale app from the App Store (it’s universal for native iPad support and works with all iOS devices except first-gen iPod touches), simply strap on the cuff (it’s easy to do by yourself) and plug it in—the WiScale app will launch automatically. You can sign up for a free Withings account inside the app and add multiple users in order to track your entire family with a single login, viewable from any iOS device or online via a web browser. Graphs can also be shared with other Withings accounts and blood pressure data can be emailed direct to your doctor with a few taps.
Colored dots provide real-world information for those mysterious systolic and diastolic numbers (orange indicates moderate hypertension).
The app offers one or three measurements in a row (which uses a mean average of three readings), depending upon your physician’s advice. After a measurement, systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as BPM (beats per minute) are presented and synced to your account. After a reading is displayed, tap for more detailed information—a green dot indicates normal or optimal blood pressure, orange indicates mild hypertension, and red indicates moderate or severe hypertension, which should definitely get checked out by a doctor. It’s been years since our last blood pressure check, and during that time we’ve developed a case of moderate hypertension. Thanks to the Withings Blood Pressure Monitor, we can take steps to reverse this trend, using educational information from the included booklet and in-app FAQ.
The bottom line. It’s a simple, accurate way to track your health from home, and for less than the cost of a single uninsured doctor visit, it could even save your life.
Blood Pressure Monitor
iOS 3.0 or later (iOS 4.x recommended)
Cuff is easy to place by yourself and fits both large and small arms. Free Withings cloud account tracks multiple users and syncs results between devices. Battery-powered air pump doesn’t drain power from iOS device.
Free universal app has awkward UI navigation. Daily app reminders require iOS 4.x or later. No way to edit user name from app (can only be edited from Mac or PC browser).