If you look online, you’ll find various wearables and exercise trackers boasting smartwatch blood pressure tracking. Many of these, though, are estimates. Opposed to the data you get from approved medical instruments. However, circumstances can soon improve.
According to their blog post, Fitbit is geared up for its newest testing project. This time focused on how its wearable devices can track blood pressure without conventional arm cuffs.
Why the Fitbit Sense for Blood Pressure Tracking?
The Fitbit Sense, their most advanced health watch, includes a heart rate monitor, electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor, and skin temperature monitors. As well as electrodermal activity (EDA) to assess everyday stress levels.
Eligible Fitbit Sense users can partake in research by the brand’s lab. It will look at how pulse arrival time can be incorporated in the calculation of blood pressure. The study started in April 2021.
US-based Fitbit Sense users that are a minimum age of 20 will join the study (which started in April). It will investigate how blood pressure can be measured using pulse arrival time (PAT).
The time it takes for a blood pulse to reach your wrist after a heartbeat is known as PAT (Pulse Arrival Time). PAT was shown to associate with blood pressure in previous Fitbit Labs trials. But, the current research will expand those results to apply to the larger population.
A previous study had found a connection between PAT and blood pressure; however, the link was not good enough to confidently estimate blood pressure, according to Fitbit. Small data sets or complex settings, such as an intensive care unit, were the focus of these studies. In a brief, 3-week internal sample, Fitbit Labs discovered a connection between PAT and blood pressure.
Fitbit users who are eligible will get a message via the Fitbit app inviting them to participate. The organisation stated that it is seeking a large group of participants to obtain valid real-world results.
Why is the blood pressure study important?
According to the CDC and Prevention, over half of all adults in the United States (45%) have elevated blood pressure. Hypertension can also increase the risks of Stroke and heart disease.
This disease was a primary or leading factor of up to 500,000 deaths in 2018.
There has been a push in recent years to move away from conventional arm cuff readers. Plus more demand for remote continuous tracking systems and wearables. Ill-fitting bands or poor arm placement usually cause common errors in blood pressure measurements. Increased patient stress from being in a medical environment can also be a factor.
Shelten Yuen, principal scientist over at Fitbit who led the research, commented on Twitter saying
if elevated blood pressure was easier to spot, people could control it earlier. Which could potentially reduce avoidable deaths from heart failure and stroke.
it’s a difficult scientific undertaking, and there’s already a lot more testing to be done to figure out the right approach to do it. But, Fitbit is confident in its tradition of advancing technologies to make previously unavailable fitness indicators available to its users from their wrist. So it’s a task they’re excited to take on.
According to the Journal of Clinical Medicine, previous studies into the efficacy of using PAT to predict blood pressure has mainly been performed in small homogeneous participant pools. However, according to a study conducted in the paper that involved over six million heart cycles, PAT is linked to blood pressure.
The Wider Market
Fitbit isn’t the only company working on how to use wearables to track blood pressure constantly.
Aktiia, a Swiss startup, recently earned a CE mark for its wrist-based continuous blood pressure sensor. Over the span of hours, days, and weeks, the system automatically monitors blood pressure. It is not necessary to take a calculation during the wearer’s day or when they are sleeping. The free companion app then displays the data. Furthermore, you can share the data with a doctor or family member to track potentially dangerous changes.
This year, Samsung received approval to expand its blood pressure and ECG tracking capabilities for smartwatches to 31 different countries. The Samsung Health Monitor software is used to use all features. While users must calibrate their system every four weeks using a standard cuff, blood pressure is monitored using heart rate monitoring sensors to perform pulse wave analysis.
Riva Health reportedly received $15.5m for its smartphone-based blood pressure-monitoring technology, not related to wearables. The app instructs users to position an index finger on the phone’s camera to identify a reading with the flashlight.
We’ll keep you updated as to the progress of Fitbit’s blood pressure findings and the future of smartwatch blood tracking pressure.
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Last Updated on June 7, 2021