Approximately one in three American adults have high blood pressure. Nearly half of adults with hypertension do not have their blood pressure under control.
There is now a growing body of data that strategies in which anti-hypertensive therapy is titrated remotely by patients, as well as clinicians, using home blood pressure monitoring can be effective1,2. As a result, connected blood pressure monitors could potentially have a meaningful impact on health outcomes.
There are a number of choices on the market now for connected blood pressure cuffs; in fact, we recently published a guide to those available and the key features for determining which is appropriate for your patient.
Since then, there’s been a new entry into the field: QardioArm. After announcing the device at the start of the year, Qardio raised nearly $150,000 on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo. The device became available in the US soon after receiving FDA clearance earlier this summer.
The folks at Qardio clearly paid a great deal of attention to the form factor with this device and really came up with a surprisingly unique design, not an easy accomplishment with a device thats been around for as long as the sphygmomanometer. The design features an low profile, with the cuff itself wrapping around a small and lightweight controller unit. As a result, its exceptionally easy to take this device on the go or to store it at home when not in use.
It’s not entirely intuitive how to apply the cuff to your arm; I did have to check the video on the company website to figure it out. After using it once or twice, it becomes far easier to apply than the usual cuff that accompanies a traditional automatic device. And changing the batteries is straightforward; just push the button on the inner surface of the controller unit to open the battery compartment.
All in all, I found the unique design of the QardioArm to be a nice reminder of the fact that medical devices can really be aesthetically pleasing and easy to use.
The device is controlled entirely through an app that is available for iOS and Android, the latter of which became available in early September. Opening the app for the first time, we are asked to register and provide some personal information, including the name of our physician. From then on, the app opens straight to the measurement screen.
Before we take our first measurement, though, we’ll detour to explore the other features and options available within the app. The menu screen is accessed by tapping on the “Q” button which I initially mistook for the magnifying glass typical of search functions. There are several options here worth noting in the Menu.
First, we can access the Settings to configure some basic features. One that I particularly appreciated was automatically setting the device to take multiple measurements each time it is used. That’s the method that’s advocated for by the AHA and is generally recognized as producing more accurate measurements when using automated devices. Touch pairing, which is automatically on, connects the smartphone or tablet automatically to the QardioArm when in range.
The Lock paired device crashed the app every time I used it, so I can’t speak to its functionality; I’m told by the folks at Qardio that this issue is not one they have seen with the version of the device now available for purchase. Finally, the photo slideshow options are allow the app to access the photo album on the device to display images while the user is checking their blood pressure.
In the Friends & Family section, there is an option to add followers and to see who is following you. This feature would be particularly nice way to engage a patient’s family in their care; the limitation is that the data can only be viewed if they use the Qardio app. A nice feature here would be the ability to schedule automated reporting via email as well.
In the Profile section, there is an option to add the name and email of the user’s physician in addition to entering our standard identifiers. Oddly, that information has to be re-entered when actually sharing the history, defeating the point of entering in the Profile screen.