Does your smartwatch inflate? The first ‘true wearable’ blood pressure monitoring smartwatch also includes heart rate variability and tracks daily activity and sleep, though it’s going to appeal most to those with specific health issues.
Auto-inflating cuff in strap
Excellent build quality
Heart rate zone tracking
Short battery life
Only tracks walks and runs
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Wearables are quickly morphing from smartwatches and fitness trackers to medical devices, able to alert us if they detect a symptom of a serious medical condition. Cue the BP Doctor Pro, a unique and rather good looking new smartwatch whose wrist strap boasts a miniature pump and air valve that inflates to monitor your blood pressure.
It’s not exactly the first smartwatch to get our heart racing. There’s been a raft of optical and electrical heart-rate sensors on smartwatches and fitness trackers in recent years. Features like heart-rate, ECG (electrocardiogram), oxygen saturation and AFib irregular heart-rate rhythm measurements are common, but actual blood pressure?
Yes, the Samsung Galaxy Watch does have a blood pressure app and Amazfit smartwatches will soon get PumpBeats, but they’re essentially using an algorithm on the same optical PPG (photoplethysmography) sensor that’s typically used to measure heart rate.
Blood pressure is traditionally taken using a sphygmomanometer consisting of a stethoscope, arm cuff, pump and dial, or a fiddly at-home upper-arm oscillometric device that is a pain to use. BP Doctor Pro has miniaturised all the necessary pumps and valves to create a patented inflatable cuff design. Tell the BP Doctor Pro to do its thing and the wrist strap will physically tighten around your wrist over the course of exactly one minute.
Yes, it feels strange. Downright odd, in fact. At the end of the process the cuff deflates, letting out a squeak as it displays your blood pressure reading on the watch. It also comes with warnings if you’re in the danger zone.
The upshot is you can keep a record of your blood pressure over time. Why would you even want to? Hypertension. It’s a condition that has zero symptoms and often goes unnoticed yet strains your blood vessels, heart, brain, kidneys and eyes, and therefore increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes (it’s often called the ‘silent killer’).
However, the BP Doctor Pro does a lot more than simply measure your blood pressure. It does most other things fitness watches do, too, like tracking your activity and your sleep, receiving notifications from your smartphone, and setting alarms. However, it’s not waterproof, doesn’t have GPS, activities are restricted to walking and running, and it’s got a rather short battery life.
Good at what it does but underwhelming elsewhere, the BP Doctor Pro will best suit those that have high blood pressure and want a device to help them lower it by both being more generally active and losing weight.
YHE BP Doctor Pro price and release date
- Out now
- Costs $399 / £290 / AU$552
Launched in August 2021, the BP Doctor Pro is the result of a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in 202 by YHE Techs, a company created by former employees of wellness tech brands including Mindray, Withings and Misfit.
The BP Doctor Pro is on sale on the company’s website as a single item for $399 / £290 / AU$552, or a dual pack of two devices, which costs $699 / £510 / AUS$975. Until the end of 2021 you can get $100 off using the code YHEWELCOME.
YHE BP Doctor Pro design
- 1.41-inch AMOLED display
- Weighs 83g
- 30mm wrist strap
The BP Doctor Pro boasts impressive hardware. Solid and well made, the glass front of the stainless steel case is dominated by an oval-shaped 1.41-inch AMOLED screen display. It measures 320 x 360 pixels and is plenty sharp, bright, colourful and contrasty enough to read clearly in all kinds of light, including bright sunlight while out on a run.
On the right-hand side is an on/off switch for the display and a ‘home’ button while the rear hosts three charging connector points and a PPG heart rate sensor.
Inside is a triaxial accelerometer, a gyroscope and, on the 30mm-wide silicon wrist strap, that inflatable cuff to gauge your blood pressure. It’s positioned as a crescent covering only half of the inner wrist. While physically attached to the back of the watch, it’s merely tethered to the end of the strap by a very narrow silicone loop. We’re not convinced it’s going to last that long, which is a slight concern.
In the box is the watch, a small charging dock, a micro USB cable and some wrist diameter tape to help you get the right fit. Once adjusted properly its 83g felt fairly substantial; it’s much heavier than the Apple Watch. While we found it OK, we’re not convinced those with small arms are going to much like its weight or its stretched oval 54 x 38 x 12.9mm size.
YHE BP Doctor Pro setup
- Connects via Bluetooth 4.2
- Receives smartphone notifications
The BP Doctor Pro uses a simple and colourful OS based on FreeRTos that runs on a 208 MHz MediaTek chipset. For the most part, that proves enough, though it’s hardly a super-quick device. However, we didn’t experience any serious issues with touch and navigation.
With the Bpdoctor app downloaded and fired-up it was easy to locate and link to the watch. It’s possible to choose from a range of nicely designed swappable watch faces, though the act of transferring new ones from app to watch took a long time; one 1.7MB watch face took almost 10 minutes to transfer. That didn’t bode well for a large firmware update that soon became available, though that downloaded and installed in under 10 minutes.
YHE BP Doctor Pro blood pressure tracking
- A blood pressure reading takes one minute
- Wrist must be held over the heart
- Previous readings are easily accessible
Do you understand blood pressure readings? If you’re mulling over a purchase of the BP Doctor Pro, you need to. It consists of two pressure numbers expressed as millimetres of mercury (mmHg); systolic (the force at which your heart pumps blood) and diastolic (the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels).
Being able to take blood pressure ‘properly’ is a first for a smartwatch, and how the BP Doctor Pro does it is delightfully manual. You need to touch only two commands to measure your blood pressure, but first you need to raise your wrist to the same level of your heart. The easiest way is just to put your hand on your heart.
Then the BP Doctor Pro starts pumping. Yes, it feels odd as the strap physically tightens around your wrist. It takes exactly one minute to reach peak squeeze before it lets out a chirp and deflates, instantly displaying your blood pressure reading and heart rate on the watch. If your figures are fine you see a green circle. If not, it’s red. If you move about during the process it stops and ticks you off. A shortcut from the blood pressure readout on the watch then takes you straight to a record of all of your previous readings.
There is a catch. Blood pressure measurements taken at the wrist – where your arteries are narrower – tend to be higher and less accurate than on the upper arm. That’s something to know, though our measurements were all in the safe zone – and in the same ballpark – except for one outlier.
If you’ve ever used an at-home blood pressure device you’ll know that the process can be hit-and-miss; take your blood pressure three times and we guarantee you won’t ever get the same reading. In that sense, the BP Doctor Pro is perhaps no different. It’s just incredibly convenient and far, far easier to use.
Like a lot of its rivals, the BP Doctor Pro also measures blood oxygen level (SpO2) and heart rate variability (HRV), which picks-up the variation in heartbeats and can be a sign of heart disease, hypertension and heart failure.
YHE BP Doctor Pro fitness and sleep tracking
- Push notifications from a smartphone
- Tracks walks and runs only
- No GPS
Despite these usual smartwatch features, the BP Doctor Pro is still best considered a health tracker, and not an all-round smartwatch or activity tracker that just happens to have a special blood pressure feature as an add-on. If you don’t need to monitor your blood pressure there are few other compelling reasons to buy this smartwatch, but as a health tracker for a niche of users managing their condition at home – and making simple changes to their lifestyle – the easy to use and uncomplicated BP Doctor Pro will be an excellent choice
Given that the treatment for high blood pressure is lifestyle changes including weight loss and regular exercise, the BP Doctor Pro’s unique blood pressure features naturally morph into the kinds of things that most fitness watches and smartwatches do.
You can check the weather, set alarms and get push notifications from the likes of WhatsApp, Twitter and Snapchat if you link accounts via the Bpdoctor app.
There’s no GPS so accuracy is an issue, but it’s easy enough to track walks and runs – both indoor and out – and get a readout of how long and how far you’ve been going for. There’s also a simple sleep tracker that on the watch simply lets you know how long you just sleep for.
YHE BP Doctor Pro companion app
- Extensive blood pressure records and trends
- Summaries of workouts and sleep
- Data syncing with watch takes time
It’s the simple act of storing your blood pressure readings in one place for analysis and trend-spotting that makes the Bpdoctor app an essential part of the product. The front page of the app shows essential statistics for the most recent readings of blood pressure, HRV, blood oxygen saturation and heart rate. You can then enter each of these metrics individually to access daily summaries and even yearly trends.
There’s a workout record, a calorie counter and a sleep analysis page. It’s all fairly simple and to the point; that’s a good thing.
Recognizing the potential users of such a product, the app includes a ‘My Family’ feature that allows someone to check a family member’s 30-day data from afar.
The only issue we have is that although the watch and app appear to sync quickly, the data takes many minutes to upload.
YHE BP Doctor Pro battery life
- 180mAh battery
- Recharges using micro USB
- Lasts about three days
Thought you’d seen the last of micro USB? The BP Doctor Pro is yet another device that seems happy to put cutting-edge tech alongside a legacy connection. A micro USB cable is required to recharge the BP Doctor Pro’s 180mAh LiPo (lithium polymer) battery, which YHE reckon will last about seven days. We’re not convinced about that; in our tests the BP Doctor Pro had lost all power after only three days.
It recharges in a small cradle. Actually getting the connectors on the rear of the BP Doctor Pro to meet those on the charging cradle means snapping the watch into place. It’s a snug fit.
Buy it if
You want to monitor your blood pressure
Obviously the BP Doctor Pro’s unique feature is that inflatable cuff, which you can use whenever you like to take regular readings of your blood pressure and, crucially, store them in the app so you can spot trends.
You want to lower your blood pressure using exercise
Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger so it will pump more blood more efficiently and with less forces on your arteries, therefore lowering your blood pressure. The BP Doctor Pro impresses as a general activity tracker for walking and running.
Don't buy it if
You want to maximize your workouts
Blood pressure isn’t particularly relevant if you’re a fitness fanatic wanting to maximise your runs and workouts. This is a smartwatch for those laser-focused on reducing their blood pressure.
Your activities of choice are swimming and cycling
The BP Doctor Pro isn’t waterproof and doesn’t have GPS capabilities. In fact, the only activities the BP Doctor Pro tracks are walking and running (both indoors and out), so if you’re a swimmer or cyclist this probably isn’t the smartwatch for you.
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Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and Space.com. He also edits two of his own websites, TravGear.com and WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),