A couple of months ago I went to the doctor for my government-recommended heart check. After the nurse practitioners had done their stuff, my GP re-measured my blood pressure. He used a time-tested, hand-pumped blood pressure meter. He trusts it more, he said, than the automatic ones. I wonder what he would make of the Withings BPM Connect. It’s not just automated; it’s smart.
What is the Withings BPM Connect?
Well, I guess the name describes it. The Withings BPM Connect is an automatic blood pressure tester. It loads the measurement into the Withings Health Mate app on your phone. Actually, that data is stored in a secure database on Withings’ servers. You can use multiple phones and tablets to access it. You can delete the app, as I did for a while. When you reinstall it and log into your account, your recorded data is once again available. Or you can just log into the Withings website to inspect your health data.
Note, Withings also markets products to the medical community, including things like ECG monitors and such. That tends to give me confidence in its measurements. As does the “Share with your doctor” suggestion on the box. As does the lack of any disclaimer on the box saying, “This is not a medical device.” Indeed, as does the accuracy specification: “±3mmHg or 2% of reading”. It also measures your pulse.
The Withings BPM Connect consists of a plastic main part which measures 150mm long by 45mm wide by 27mm thick. That houses the rechargeable battery, the air pump, the Wi-Fi module and other smarts, and the display. Attached to that is the inflatable cloth cuff. If you’ve ever had your blood pressure measured by your doctor, you’ll know exactly what that’s like. The cuff is also 150mm wide and just wraps around the main unit when not in use.
Using the Withings BPM Connect
The first thing to do is charge up the Withings BPM Connect. A Micro-B USB port on the end is for that purpose. A cable is supplied. Withings says that a charge is good for up to six months. I can’t attest to that. Six months would be too long to wait for a review, but I note that the battery life of its smart watch is impressive.
Then you install the Health Mate app on your phone or tablet, set up or log into your free account and go to the “Devices” tab. Tap the plus sign and select the Withings BPM Connect. In my case, it found the unit instantly and then talked me through setup. That principally involves choosing a Wi-Fi access point and entering the Wi-Fi password. It connected to my Wi-Fi in a couple of seconds. And then it was ready to use.
Withings BPM Connect measurements
You just follow the instructions with regard to posture, put your arm into the sleeve, pull it moderately tight and wrap the flap over. It’s held in place with Velcro. Press the single control button once to switch on the Withings BPM Connect. Press it again to start the measurement.
You can’t see it when it’s off, but there’s actually a largish dot matrix display underneath the plastic of the unit’s body. This flashes various indicators as it is measuring. The cuff is pumped up, just like at the doctor. The pressure was quite high, perhaps a little higher than I recall from my last doctor’s visit. After about fifty seconds, it finishes measuring and releases the pressure. The results are flashed up in sequence: systolic blood pressure (the high number, when the heart is pumping), diastolic blood pressure (the heart is relaxing) and heart rate. It cycles through them for a minute or so, then switches off. And of course it uploads them via Wi-Fi. Within a minute or two they appear in the app.
The blood pressure measurements did not seem at all at odds with what my doctor measured, and the heart rate was clearly accurate. When the cuff is approaching maximum fill, I could feel my pulse in my hand. That would be easy to measure.
My wife was disconcerted by the pressure when I was testing her. I think there’s something vaguely worrying about an automatic device constricting your arm. But in the end there was no real discomfort.
There isn’t anything more to say, really, about the Withings BPM Connect smart blood pressure monitor. It is effective, seemingly accurate, reliable and easy to use.