The first thing you’ll notice is that BPM index (opens in a new tab) much bulkier than, say, a smartwatch. The likely reason for its size is that the device can fit around your bicep and give an accurate reading. While there is a smart watch that can measure blood pressure (opens in a new tab), those that do this with a cuff aren’t widely available, and those that use pulse transit time “require regular calibration with a regular home blood pressure monitor,” according to Garmin. Additionally, Garmin notes, these devices typically can’t “track systolic and diastolic blood pressure,” while the Index BPM can.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (opens in a new tab), systolic blood pressure refers to the blood pressure when your heart is beating, and diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when your heart is resting. Knowing both is important for heart health. The readings for both measurements appear on the Index OLED screen with corresponding “SYS” and “DIA” indicators, so you’ll know which number is which.
The strap on the Index BPM can fit a wide range of hand sizes from nine to 17 inches (22 to 42 cm) in circumference. According to Garmin, it’s powered by four AAA batteries that should last you a good nine months before needing to be replaced.
When it comes to the software, Index BPM features allow multiple users and ways to generate reports. The device can sync with Garmin Connect mobile app (opens in a new tab) over Wi-Fi, where you can view your blood pressure readings in detail, add some notes, and view the overall history of your device. Collected data can also be viewed as a weekly, monthly or yearly program report.
Up to 16 different user profiles can be created for Index BPM in the Connect application. Each profile will track readings for each person using the device. This data can then be synced with other Garmin Connect apps so people can read their reports on their devices.
Garmin notes that the BPM index has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which may lead some to believe that it has not been “FDA approved.” Every time a new medical device enters the market, The FDA tests them to make sure they are safe. (opens in a new tab) When something gets FDA approval, it means the device works similarly to an existing device and doesn’t need special “pre-market approval.” On the other hand, “FDA approved” usually refers to drugs and anything that can directly affect human health.
Index BPM is available now for $149.99 USD (US only). Garmin Online Store (opens in a new tab).
A potential new trend
It is quite possible that Garmin will be the first to take advantage of the possibility of accurate blood pressure monitoring. As stated earlier, most smartwatches aren’t the most accurate at measuring blood pressure, even Apple struggles with the technology, particularly with accuracy. According to a Bloomberg report (opens in a new tab)Apple wants to add this feature to the Apple Watch but it doesn’t look like it will happen before 2024.
Huawei, on the other hand, seems to have made the technology work. TechRadar’s Lance Ulanov recently tried it out Huawei Watch D at the IFA 2022 event where the device measured his systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Be sure to check out our coverage.