Name: OMRON EVOLV
Type: Automatic upper arm blood pressure monitor
Specs: Click here for full specs
Founded in the 1940s, Japanese company OMRON has been in the medical care business for many years and is probably best known for its range of digital thermometers, nebulisers and blood pressure monitors. Here Chris Price looks at a smart blood pressure monitor, the EVOLV, which uses Bluetooth to sync your health data to your smartphone.
Blood pressure monitors are nothing new. They’ve been around for quite some time and are particularly handy if you want to monitor your readings, especially if you have a history of either low or high blood pressure. I’ve used a Boots blood pressure monitor for a little while and it’s been fine. The only problem is that it can be a little fiddly with a cable leading from the main unit to the strap on your arm which means you have to set it up on a flat surface. Also there is no way of recording the readings automatically.
Far better is to have a solution like the OMRON EVOLV. Rather than a cable that trails from a desktop unit to the arm strap, all of the electronics are built into what OMRON calls the Intelli Wrap Cuff. Basically this is a strap you put around the upper left arm as usual which comprises all of the built in electronics, including the digital display. This shows all of your readings in one place – the Systolic and Diastolic blood pressure measurements plus your pulse rate (for more information on what blood pressure is see https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/what-is-blood-pressure/)
Setting up the OMRON EVOLV is reasonably straightforward. Four AAA batteries (provided) slot into the main electronics unit on the Intelli Wrap Cuff. The only slight problem is that it’s a little tricky to insert them because there isn’t that much space between the electronics display and the cuff.
Once these are inserted you then need to download the Connect OMRON app from either iTunes for Apple phones or Google Play for Android. This is so you can sync information from the EVOLV to your smartphone for further analysis. Alternatively it is perfectly possible to use the device simply as a standard stand-alone blood pressure monitor and take the readings for your blood pressure and pulse rate from the digital display instead.
Top 6 tips on how to take your own blood pressure
- Avoid bathing, drinking alcohol or caffeine, smoking, exercising or eating for 30 minutes before taking a measurement
- Rest for at least 5 minutes before taking the measurement
- Stress raises blood pressure. Avoid taking measurements during stressful times
- Measurements should be taken in a quiet place
- Remove tight-fitting clothing from your arm
- Keep a record of your blood pressure and pulse readings over time. Try to measure at the same time each day for consistency
In order to sync your phone to the EVOLV you first need to choose the product from the list of options within the app, then choose your region and apply region settings (this takes about 30 seconds). You then pair the app with the Bluetooth on your phone by pressing the button with the two arrow keys next to start/stop button on the main unit (this is the sync button).
Unfortunately, it took me a few attempts at doing this even though the Bluetooth on my phone was switched on OK and it was showing a connection to the EVOLV. In the end I had to disconnect the Bluetooth connection to the EVOLV within the Settings option of my iPhone. I did this by clicking ‘Forget this Device’ and then re-adding it via the app. Took a little while but I got there in the end.
Taking your blood pressure
Once the app is set up, the next step is to take your blood pressure. Actually this is really straightforward compared to other blood pressure monitors I’ve tested where the lead can get wrapped around your arm. Simply put the cuff around your left arm about 2inches (5cm) above the elbow (it’s usually your left arm because your heart is on the left side of your chest and the connection there is stronger), making sure it’s reasonably tight, but not too tight. An ‘o’ shaped symbol will appear if it’s too loose, or an OK symbol if it’s, er, OK .
Then press the start/stop button on the front panel and wait for the cuff to get tighter making sure you are fully rested and not too stressed (see six top tips on how to take your own blood pressure above). Once the reading has been taken the cuff around your arm will automatically loosen and the display on the unit will flash your results up including your heart rate as well as your systolic (higher) and diastolic (lower) readings. Generally speaking 120/80 is considered normal while anything over 140/90 could be a sign of high blood pressure (also known as hypertension).
In order to sync the EVOLV with your smartphone to get all of your readings you simply swipe the screen down within the app. This will bring the measurements into a graphical display (see screen grab above), showing your blood pressure and pulse. You can also add them to a journal and view the readings in graph form.
Not only can you export data you can also share it with other health apps, including Hi Vivo Plus and Apple Health. I’ve decided to share my readings with Apple Health so now they appear in the Vitals section of the Apple Health app where it’s also possible to show them in graph format which I find really useful.
Worried that you might have high or low blood pressure? Then getting your own blood pressure monitor is a really good idea. It’s not always practical to make an appointment to see your doctor and monitoring it yourself over a period of time is a very useful exercise. Whereas before you would have to write out all of your readings into a paper diary it’s now possible to get this information sent to your smartphone via Bluetooth using one of the latest digital health devices. What’s really good about the OMRON EVOLV is that it’s particularly easy to use once Bluetooth is synced. Simply wrap the device around your arm, press start and try to relax as your readings appear on the device’s display and on your smart phone! Excellent health gadget.