Fitbit wants to enable blood pressure measurements on its smartwatches

Blood pressure measurements are normally only reserved for expensive equipment that is used in hospitals or GP stations. Through additional research into Pulse Arrival Time, which may be able to map blood pressure, Fitbit wants to bring ‘blood pressure measurements ‘ to its wearables.

Measure blood pressure on Fitbit watches

More and more physical functions can be read on wearables; this started earlier with the built-in heart rate monitors but has now also expanded to oxygen measurements of your blood (SpO2). With the Fitbit Sense, you can even measure the temperature of your skin. Fitbit is not standing still and has asked its research department, Fitbit Labs, to conduct research into monitoring blood pressure with a watch.

According to Fitbit, monitoring your blood pressure is extremely important: a (too) high blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular disease, and eventually even death from its consequences. Some of the people with high blood pressure – in the United States, about half of the population has high blood pressure – are unaware of it. This has to do with the fact that such blood pressure measurements can only be performed with specialist equipment. Fitbit now wants to use the Pulse Arrival Time (PAT) technique to see whether it can also be done without such expensive equipment.

Pulse Arrival Time (PAT)

PAT is normally used to measure the time between a heartbeat and the moment the blood enters your wrist. According to the Google subsidiary, researchers have found a correlation between PAT measurements and people’s blood pressure. Currently, the discovery still seems to be causing much discussion, the blood pressure measurement based on the correlation is insufficiently accurate to serve to users.

Fitbit wants to investigate to what extent any measurements are accurate when a broader population is involved in this study. European Fitbit users are not (yet) within the group for the time being; Fitbit Labs only recruits American Fitbit Sense users for its PAT study. Investigators will monitor users’ PAT data for one month prior to the study. Based on that data, Fitbit wants to conclude whether there is indeed a strong correlation between PAT and people’s blood pressure.

The fact that Fitbit is researching the technology does not mean that it will actually be possible to measure your blood pressure with a Fitbit watch. Currently, Fitbit seems to be mainly about collecting data for a possible solution. Do you want to be able to measure your blood pressure with Fitbit watches, or would you still prefer to visit the doctor or a hospital to check this? Be sure to let us know in the comments at the bottom of this article.

Leave a Comment