Blood Pressure on Your Watch

Picture by Biobeat Technologies LTD

The Apple Watch was introduced in April 2015. Skeptics came out of the woodwork and said the product was going nowhere. Since then sales of the Watch have skyrocketed. Estimates vary, but the latest forecast I have seen estimates 2019 sales will be more than 30 million watches, certainly way more than the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry shipments.

One of the drivers for Apple Watch since the Series 4 was introduced in September 2018 has been the electrocardiogram (ECG) feature. The ability to get the FDA approved equivalent of a lead 1 ECG in 30 seconds has appealed to many people, especially those who have atrial fibrillation or would like to be able to know if it appears.

A question I am often asked is when will be able to check our blood pressure on our watch. There are numerous wireless blood cuffs which can take your blood pressure and save the results on your iPhone (I recommend Qardio). I suspect Apple will expand the Health app on the Watch so you can see all health-related data on your Watch. However, the Watch cannot (at least yet) take your blood pressure. Biobeat Technologies LTD (not to be confused with Biobeats, another healthcare startup), is a Tel Aviv, Israel startup about to be changing the game. The company is promoting a new watch which includes blood pressure monitoring with no blood cuff.

Biobeat’s sensors are based on plethysmography technology. Plethysmography measures changes in volume in different areas of your body. It is typically used to test how much air is in your lungs after you take in a deep breath. Biobeat’s watch has sensors which can detect how much blood is in the veins under your wrist. The company also has a version of the watch technology which you can stick on your chest and measure your blood pressure.

The company said its products are now FDA approved and feature a cloud connectivity capability which allows your blood pressure to be sent electronically to a caregiver or healthcare provider. But wait, there’s more!

In addition to Continuous Blood Pressure, Biobeat claims its watch sensors can detect Mean Arterial Pressure, Pulse Rate, Respiratory Rate, Blood Saturation, Stroke Volume, Cardiac output, Cardiac Index, Heart Rate Variability, Pulse Pressure, Systemic Vascular Resistance, One Lead ECG (patch only), Sweat, Movement, Skin Temperature, Sleep Lab, Calories, and Time. Details are a bit sketchy, but the company claims they have FDA approval for blood pressure, pulse rate, and oxygen saturation vital signs. They further claim they have approval for all nearly twenty measurements in Europe.

Battery life for the watch is 3 days and, for the patch, 10 days.  Time will tell if Biobeats is the breakthrough in passive and continuous vital sign tracking it claims to be. The watch has a one year warranty but, if you read the BIOBEAT TERMS OF USE, you will see there is no warranty on the accuracy of its measurements.

Biobeats may be a bit ahead of itself, but I am a believer. I wrote a journal article about mobile health (mHealth) called “How mHealth will spur consumer-led healthcare” published in July 2015. I believe mHealth options will continue to expand and will ultimately lead to lower healthcare cost and improved health for those who are chronically ill.

Disclosure: I am not an investor in any company mentioned in this article.