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Fitbit researching wrist-based blood pressure tracking in monthlong Sense study

Fitbit’s most advanced smartwatch today can track heart rate, SpO2, and skin temperature, with the company now investigating whether it can measure blood pressure with a new study for Sense owners. 

Today, checking that metric involves a blood pressure cuff that most people don’t have at home. As such, Fitbit says this measurement is limited to one or twice a year at the doctor’s office, though ideally you’re tracking over a period of months.

High blood pressure is called a silent killer for a reason.¹ Symptoms are rarely obvious but uncontrolled high blood pressure can increase the risk for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death for people in the United States.² Nearly one out of two adults in the US has high blood pressure, but many don’t know they have it.³/⁴

Fitbit Labs is launching a blood pressure study this month to “potentially measure” Pulse Arrival Time (PAT), or the “time it takes for a pulse of blood to reach your wrist after your heart beats.” The company wants to “explore the potential link to tracking blood pressure” and needs a wider data set:

Previous research has found 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, three-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.

Sense owners over 20 in the US will receive a notification in the Fitbit app about this study. If successful, the company sees having easy access to blood pressure readings as being potentially helpful for those with hypertension.

Diversity in our research is essential, so we encourage eligible Sense users across all demographics to sign up.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: