If you're one of the 73 million Americans who have hypertension—that's one in three, for folks keeping count—you know the most important thing you can do is keep track of your blood pressure.
You also probably know that actually monitoring your blood pressure is not as easy as it sounds. Most monitors are bulky, cumbersome to use, and certainly not portable. The devices can be inconvenient to use, especially when paired up with certain lifestyles, and can lead to a lower level of diligence than doctors might recommend.
This year, Omron, the number-one blood pressure monitor company in the world, is trying to make things easier by offering an alternative to the old-fashioned arm bands you'd find at your doctor's office.
The new Project Zero wrist and upper arm monitors allow users to check their blood pressure anytime, anywhere. And while the upper arm device looks more than a little bit like a traditional cuff—albeit with a small, sleek screen attached—the wrist device looks more like a smart watch.
True, it's certainly bulkier than a regular watch, but the minimalist black design means it won't look out of place on anyone's wrist. When you want to check your blood pressure, all it takes is the quick press of a button. Info is stored and sent to you and/or your doctor through an app on your smart phone. The unit also works with the Apple Health app.
Much like a typical smart watch, the Project Zero wrist unit also tells time, tracks your steps and distance, counts calories, and even monitor your sleep. Despite this, the company is quick to point out that the new devices are not designed to replace your Fitbit. Instead, they're meant to be treated as medical devices designed specifically for folks struggling with hypertension.
The hope, according to Omron, is that the easier-to-use and less conspicuous devices will convince patients with hypertension to change poor behavior patterns and monitor their blood pressure more often. In a perfect world, this would decrease preventable instances of heart attack and stroke.
Project Zero is as accurate as any doctor’s machine—within +/- 3 millimeters of mercury, in fact—and have been cleared with the FDA. Both wrist band and arm cuff are set to launch at the end of 2016. The watch will be priced at $200 or less, while the upper arm device will run about $100 or less.