Review of the Aktiia bracelet, which monitors blood pressure from the wrist using a cuff-like device

Aktiia

8.1

DESIGN

8.0/10

EASY TO USE

 8.5/10

 THE APPLICATION OF INFORMATION

 8.5/10

 

MONEY FOR MONEY

 7.5/10

PROS

  • performs with the precision of a cufflink.
  • Measurements are made automatically.
  • design with a low profile
  • App that is simple to use
  • The long life of the battery

 

CONS

We have little in the way of insights (this is something that will change with future upgrades). We are getting closer to the day when blood pressure monitoring from the wrist will be something that is commonplace. It’s possible that it’ll take place later this year, but it’s more likely to take place in the middle to late parts of 2022 and beyond.

Aktiia, a Swiss company, was one of the first legitimate competitors to enter this sector. In the United Kingdom, the company has just begun marketing and selling its wrist-based optical blood pressure monitor (BMP) (view on aktiia.com). The availability will be expanded to include Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland beginning at the beginning of May. As soon as the FDA gives its approval, the United States will do the same thing in the not too distant future.

Adults have a high risk of developing hypertension. Nevertheless, as many as one in three of those affected may be unaware that they have the condition. They might have a headache or a pang here and there, but they chalk it up to the fact that they are feeling a little under the weather. And thus is the conundrum, as well as the basis for why high blood pressure is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer.” You won’t realize you have a problem until it’s far too late to do anything about it.

Home BPMs can be pretty beneficial. As you get older, it is especially vital to take regular measures because the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle tend to build up over time.

BPMs, regardless of whether they are smart or conventional, normally come in one of two forms: those that are worn on the upper arm or those that are worn on the wrist. Virtually all of these utilize inflatable cuff technology in some form or another.

There is not yet a well-known company that has introduced a wrist wearable that makes use of optical sensors to take accurate readings of blood pressure in the same manner as a cuff. However, there is a great deal of commotion in this region.

The Galaxy series that Samsung produces is possibly putting the company in the lead. However, the accuracy of these readings is not on par with that of cuff measurements. Research to determine whether or not Fitbit’s Sense smartwatch can take such readings was just revealed by the company.

The arteries in your wrist are thinner and do not run as deeply under the skin as those in your forearm. This is a contributing factor to the problem. This makes it more difficult to take a blood pressure reading from that area.

Of course, there is also the Omron HeartGuide to consider. However, because it is only the size of a watch, this sphygmanometer does not utilize optical sensors. It is essentially a wrist cuff that has been shrunk down to fit into a smartwatch. Since the product was first introduced a few years ago, Omron has submitted more than 80 patent applications related to it.

Therefore, we will stick with the conventional BPMs. Although they are effective, the majority of us do not make consistent use of them.

The Aktiia bracelet is supposed to reveal something that has never been discovered before. Optical sensors are used to take blood pressure readings from the wrist during the day and night, and the readings are automatically taken and validated clinically. There are no buttons to press, and the only thing you can do is wear it.

Does it perform as it is described? Almost a month has passed since I first started wearing the Aktiia bracelet every day. Continue reading to find out my thoughts on the matter. My conversation with Michael Kisch, CEO of Aktiia, is quite interesting and should be read.

 A look at the Aktiia bracelet, including its design and its hardware

  • A design that is discrete and lacks a display
  •  an app that uses optical heart rate sensors and proprietary algorithms shows data.
  • 9 days on a single charge

 

The measuring bracelet, a standard blood pressure cuff, charging cables, and a compact charging stand are all included in the package that the Aktiia system arrives in. In addition, there is a brief instruction manual for your perusal, should you choose to do so. In most cases, I get right to the meat of the matter without spending much time on literature. Thankfully, the information contained within the smartphone app was adequate to walk me through the process of setting it up and using it.

The fact that the box contained a classic cuff emblazoned with the Aktiia name did, however, come as a bit of a surprise to me. You will learn throughout the first setup process that the device requires you to calibrate it before the very first time it is used, as well as once a month after that. It’s not a huge deal, but it is something to keep in mind.

The bracelet itself is not particularly noticeable. It has a velcro strap that is attached to a metal core unit that is the main component. The band passes through two rings located on the main unit and is held in place with a buckle that is more traditionally found on watches. After being attached, there is almost no risk that it will come off.

This is a situation in which there is just one size available. The strap, however, may be adjusted to fit wrists measuring anywhere from 14 to 21 centimeters in circumference. In the same vein, the situation is the same with the initialization cuff. According to Aktiia, the cuff may fit arms with a circumference of anywhere between 22 and 42 centimeters. That is the majority of individuals.

The compact size of the Aktiia bracelet was one of the features that I appreciated the most. This item is not intended to serve as a replacement for a conventional activity band. It is only capable of recording readings of blood pressure and heart rate at rest. Therefore, if you already use a fitness tracker and a smartwatch on a regular basis, you may wear the Aktiia on the other wrist because of its understated appearance and because it is compatible with both of these devices. It’s possible that some people could even mistake it for a piece of jewelry.

 

The engine compartment

In terms of the technology that is utilized, the Aktiia system measures an individual’s blood pressure at the wrist by employing standard optical heart rate sensors in conjunction with a set of in-house developed algorithms. In order for the system to function, it must first do an analysis of the fluctuating diameter of the arteries that occurs with each heartbeat. The monitoring is carried out at predetermined intervals on its own, allowing users to track how the fluctuations in their blood pressure affect them at various periods of the day and night.

Because the battery life of the wearable device is 9 days, it does not need to be charged very frequently. Carry on with your day while wearing it as you normally would any other fitness tracker.

However, you will need to remove it before getting into the shower or going for a swim so that it does not get damaged. This is due to the fact that the bracelet is only water-resistant to a light drizzle. Keeping it on while you swim would be somewhat of a waste of time, anyway. The only time measurements are taken by Aktiia is when it is at rest. Readings are to be taken while you are resting in bed, and possibly even at times when you have been sitting down for an extended period of time.

After approximately a week of wearing it, I eventually got into the habit of removing it before going outside. I did that with the full awareness that I wouldn’t actually be deprived of any data in the process. Even with a conventional measuring cuff, it is pointless to take your blood pressure while you are walking or exercising because the readings will be inaccurate.

In order to accomplish this, the Aktiia bracelet is equipped on the inside with an accelerometer. However, this is not to keep track of the number of steps you take or the calories you burn. It is to determine whether or not you are moving constantly. The bracelet is able to determine whether it is possible to acquire precise measurements by monitoring movement.

Take a look at how to put on and utilize the Aktiia bracelet

Readings are taken automatically, and the device continues to function even while you are at rest. However, it must be calibrated once every month.

 

You will need to calibrate the band by using a standard blood pressure cuff before you use it for the first time. As was previously stated, this component is incorporated within the package.

The Aktiia smartphone app is what facilitates the calibrating process. You will next be guided through a speedy setup process with this. In addition, you will be instructed on the proper manner in which to wear the bracelet. According to the directions, the band should fit securely but not be excessively restrictive. They recommend leaving enough room for a pencil to go through the gap between the strap and your wrist before putting the strap on.

I did everything exactly as it was described in the directions. In the end, I discovered that maintaining a snug fit for the strap results in more accurate readings because it allows for more frequent data collection. Therefore, you should try tightening the band if the instrument does not register measurements frequently enough. assuming, of course, that the garment can still be worn comfortably.

You will also be able to calibrate the gadget with the help of the app. You’ll need to take readings from both the Aktiia bracelet and the standard cuff simultaneously while seated in a position that’s comfortable for you while wearing both of them. To verify that the results are accurate, we will take two separate readings, one after the other.

The procedure can be a little bit tricky at times and calls for a little bit of practice and experimentation. When I did the calibration for the first time, it took me around five minutes to complete it. For some reason, when I wore the band on my right wrist rather than my left wrist, it functioned significantly more effectively. I did a few extra calibrations to make sure everything was in working order. On future attempts, it became simpler and operated without any problems at all.

According to Aktiia, the bracelet needs to be readjusted at least once every thirty days. The app displays the date by which the subsequent calibration needs to be performed, which is a really practical feature.

It is impossible to guarantee accurate results if the initialization is not carried out within the allotted time frame. Because of this, the manufacturer includes a warning statement on the packaging. If the initialization is not carried out at the appropriate time, there is a possibility that the data will not be accurate.

You are ready to start once you have completed the setup and calibration. The Aktiia bracelet has a compact form factor, and combined with the fact that it is extremely light, this means that you will rapidly forget that you are wearing it. In this regard, I believe that the absence of a display on the wearable device is actually advantageous. Make sure the bracelet is charged once a week or so at the very least.

 

Review of the Aktiia bracelet, including its results, app, and executive summary

  • Only daily, weekly, and monthly trends can be viewed in the application for readings.
  • The PDF report’s executive summary

 

The results are viewable on the mobile app that was provided alongside the test. This gives you the ability to view individual readings, as well as averages, and to provide others with a summary report.

A sync is accomplished through a Bluetooth connection, just like it is with all of these types of devices. This should not take more than a minute of your time.

The software, on its own, is a rather straightforward endeavor. At the bottom, you’ll find three tabs to choose from. Your blood pressure readings can be found under the Home tab of the app. Next to it is a tab labeled “Devices,” which allows you to check the remaining battery life on both the cuff and the bracelet. The very last tab displays your profile as well as any settings you have made.

Daily, weekly, and monthly readings can be examined and tracked, depending on the user’s preference. My best guess is that the bracelet might take somewhere between 9 and 10 readings per day on average.

The fact that these readings are accurate to the level specified by ISO standard 81060-2 should be given the utmost priority. Therefore, the wearable has been given the CE certification to indicate that it is medical equipment in the Class IIa category (for users within the age group of 21–65, excluding contraindications due to certain health conditions). A significant amount of investigation went into the development of the Aktiia system. This encompasses a total of one million measurements to date, in addition to five clinical trials. Follow this page for further information regarding correctness.

Traditional blood pressure readings are taken first thing in the morning with a cuff designed specifically for that purpose. The numbers for both the systolic and diastolic blood pressures would normally be eight to ten points higher than those obtained through Aktiia. That makes perfect sense. The measurements for Aktiia are taken when you are either sleeping or otherwise at rest. Throughout the day, I take readings in a seated posture using a conventional blood pressure cuff.

In addition to that, the software compiles averages. The measurements did not seem to shift significantly, in my opinion, from one day to the next. However, they would change by a couple of points in each direction. This would be determined by the activities I participated in the day before.

For instance, if I completed a really stressful round of exercise, my readings would go slightly higher while I was sleeping. This would continue until I stopped the stressful activity. In addition, during the week that followed the flight, my readings continued to improve even as I continued to recuperate from the trip.

However, the possibilities are clear to see. You are able to experiment with how changes in your workout routine, food, and amount of sleep affect your cardiovascular health thanks to the fact that Aktiia functions automatically around the clock. The application will create a chart of the measurements so that either you or your physician can see patterns.

A little bit more analysis is something that I had hoped to find in the article. In addition to the daily, weekly, and monthly averages, it concludes with the averages for the weekdays versus the averages for the weekends.

However, the company has this item on its list of things to do. According to the CEO of Aktiia, upcoming software updates will bring insights such as day versus night analysis, the ability to “label” the data so that the user and their physician can better understand the specific impact of diet, exercise, medication, and stress on the user’s cardiovascular health, as well as targeted heart health tips based upon each user’s unique blood pressure pattern.

Reports are an additional helpful component of the system. You have the ability to generate a summary paper for a specified amount of time. After that, you can view it on your phone, save it as a PDF on your computer, or send it to the doctor who is treating you.

The following is an example of the report’s summary. To view a larger version of the image, simply click on it below.

 

The judgment in our assessment of the Aktiia bracelet

 The Aktiia bracelet is not intended to serve in the same capacity as a fitness band or a smartwatch would. It does so by monitoring blood pressure at the wrist using optical sensors, in addition to monitoring resting heart rate. There is nothing else. However, it accomplishes this in an accurate and clinically relevant manner, entirely on its own, at a number of different periods during the day and night. This is the only product on the market right now that fits into this category.

Because of the bracelet’s diminutive size, once it is on your wrist, you can easily forget that it is there. Just make sure you remember to charge it about once every week. In addition, you should perform the calibration using a standard cuff once a month.

In general, I discovered that the Aktiia bracelet functions in a really satisfactory manner. It would record around ten readings in a period of twenty-four hours. This is all charted for you in the user-friendly software, and you also have the option to generate a report that you can give to your physician. The readings were in the general vicinity of where I had anticipated finding them. The fact that the wearable has been clinically validated as well as having CE Mark clearance for accuracy, both contribute to an increased level of confidence.

Anyone who is interested in keeping a closer check on their cardiovascular health would benefit tremendously from using this technique. Additionally, it may be beneficial for individuals who are at risk of developing high blood pressure or who have already been diagnosed with the condition. Your cardiovascular health can benefit from adjustments in lifestyle that you can make easier and more convenient with the help of a wearable device.

Those who are located in the UK have the opportunity to acquire an Aktiia bracelet. Soon after, other nations would follow suit. You can put your email address on the queue for Aktiia on the website so that you will be alerted as soon as it becomes available in your country.

The bracelet can be purchased for £129.99, and access to the Aktiia 24/7 Monitoring Service requires a continuing monthly subscription that costs £6.99. The monthly subscription fee is included in the yearly plan that costs £199.99.

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