Fitbit Sense inches closer to Blood Pressure monitoring

Key features of Fitbit Sense

Fitbit announced in a blog post today that their devices will start showing the Pulse Arrival Time metric starting this month for a selected group of users as a part of a study.

With this announcement, you are one step closer to monitoring your blood pressure on your Fitbit device.

According to Fitbit, 

“Starting this month, Fitbit Labs is launching a study to look at how Fitbit devices can potentially measure something called Pulse Arrival Time (PAT), which is the time it takes for a pulse of blood to reach your wrist after your heart beats, and explore the potential link to tracking blood pressure.”

Research has shown a correlation between PAT and blood pressure, but the correlation was not strong enough to predict blood pressure. 

These investigations were limited to either small data sets or specific environments like an intensive care unit. Fitbit Labs also found a correlation between PAT and blood pressure in a small, 3-week internal study. 

The new study will extend this work to a broader population in order to learn more about how PAT measurements change under a variety of conditions.

“If high blood pressure was easier to measure, people could manage it earlier, which might help avoid preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke,” said Shelten Yuen, Principal Scientist at Fitbit, who is leading this work “It’s a hard scientific challenge, and a lot of work remains to be done to understand the best way to do this, but we have a history of advancing technology to make previously inaccessible health metrics available to Fitbit users from their wrist, so it’s a challenge we’re very passionate about solving.”

Fitbit Sense users in the U.S. who are at least 20 years old, will receive a notification on their app if they are eligible to participate in the month-long study.  

Samsung Galaxy Watch currently provides blood pressure measurement using similar technology. 

Samsung’s watches measure blood pressure through pulse wave analysis, which is tracked with the Heart Rate Monitoring sensors. Once a user has performed initial calibration for blood pressure, Samsung’s program then analyzes the relationship between the calibration value and the blood pressure change to determine the blood pressure.

Fitbit is on its way to bring blood pressure monitoring to its Fitbit Sense watches. Once the company has collected enough data and adjusted for calibration, we should expect to see the feature rolled out to users.

I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products and have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. In my day job, I advise fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health&fitness-tech evolution and keep a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch or Fossil Gen 5 LTE and keep a close eye on my HRV and other recovery metrics.

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