Blood Pressure Apps – Beware, They Don’t Always Work

Wired magazine is warning consumers about a growing number of healthcare apps – including some that claim to be able to take your blood pressure – that don’t work.

Says the magazine:

Iltifat Husain has seen an awful lot of sickness and injury during his time as an emergency room doctor, but lately, he’s worried about something new. He’s worried about the ill effects of mobile healthcare apps.

…To illustrate his concern, Husain points to Instant Blood Pressure, which claims it can take a blood pressure reading in under a minute “using only your iPhone—no cuff required.” The $3.99 app has been among the top 30 most-downloaded apps in the Health and Fitness section of the App Store for the past few weeks, and it features several glowing reviews. According to the app’s description, it “uses a patent-pending process developed by a team from the Johns Hopkins University—a world leader in health innovation.”

The problem is that doctors like Husain have no reason to believe it actually works. There is no public research explaining how the app operates, and the company hasn’t done the kind of study that the Food and Drug Administration would require in ordered to get Instant Blood Pressure cleared as a medical device.

You can find numerous blood pressure apps at Amazon. But you are advised to read the entire article before acquiring any of these.

BACtrack Vio – Keychain Breathalyzer for the Drunk on the Move

BACtrack VioFor the drunk on the move comes the new BACtrack Vio keychain breathalyzer. Like just about everything else these days, it comes with Bluetooth connectivity and its own app thaty allows you to process alcohol readings on your computer or mobile device.

A lengthy article in Fast Company describes the Vio:

Inside the Vio breathalyzer is a sensor attached to a circuit board that measures the change in resistance, based on the number of alcohol particles that hit the sensor when the user blows. About half the size of BACtrack Mobile, the new Vio model uses a fold-out channel the user blows through (with the option to use a mouthpiece accessory) and is powered by a AAA battery. The battery door was flimsy in the early media unit I received, but the company says it addressed the design flaw by mass production time.

The company will continue to sell BACtrack Mobile, which features a police-grade fuel sensor, as a higher-end $129 option aimed at “consumers who are price insensitive who want the best,” Nothacker says. Because of the sensor and a miniature air pump that isolates air from deep within the lungs, he says BACtrack Mobile can be used by professional groups. BACtrack Vio, on the other hand, is intended only for consumer use.

“We’ve been doing this for 13 years, and wanted to design [a breathalyzer] that’s affordable, sexy, that people really want to use,” he said. “We took our Bluetooth board, our alcohol sensor board, mouthpiece, battery space, and we dropped it in a design that minimizes size. Our goal is to make this [something] everybody can bring everywhere.”

Check out Amazon for more detail and the latest price.

Drinking Habits Revealed – BACtrack Smartphone Breathalyzer

BACtrack Smartphone BreathalyzerBACtrack’s Mobile Breathalyzer for smartphones is providing some interesting data on the drinking habits of Americans, according to a company press release.

When users of the device have location services turned on, their breath test readings are collected anonymously by BACtrack.

Based on 12 months of readings from more than 100,000 tests, the company has noted that -

The highest average blood-alcohol content days for US drinkers are – not surprisingly – New Year’s Eve (0.095%), Super Bowl Sunday (0.087%), Valentine’s Day (0.081%) and Fourth of July (0.079%).

Thanksgiving Day usage peaks at 7 p.m., while New Year’s Eve usage dramatically increases after midnight. Meanwhile, Valentine’s Day and Christmas Eve have users drinking earlier in the day than holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and the Fourth of July.

New Year’s Day had the single highest number of unique users and the greatest number of tests - nearly double that of any other day. The next highest day for number of tests was Christmas Day.

Montana and South Dakota have the highest average blood alcohol content results in the country, each with 0.10%. Rounding out the top ten are West Virginia (0.098%), Oklahoma (0.096%), Idaho (0.089%), Vermont (0.087%), Tennessee (0.087%) – and all with 0.086%, Wisconsin, Nevada and Massachusetts.

The five states with the lowest BAC are New Hampshire (0.012%), Delaware (0.026%), Utah
(0.031%), Arkansas (0.037%), and Wyoming (0.051%).

The BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer Smartphone Breath Alcohol Tester for iPhone, iPad and Android Devices retails for $200, though is currently available at Amazon for $110.

Apple iWatch – Your Personal Blood Pressure Monitor?

Rumors abound that Apple is planning a big announcement soon on a revolutionary new iWatch, with sales likely late in the year. See MacRumors for a summary of the gossip.

For readers of this website, a big attraction will be a range of applications that turn the watch into your own portable health monitor.

According to MacRumors:

Laoyaoba [a Chinese website] also claims that the iWatch will come with a number of advanced health sensors, including those that measure heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose. Apple has also apparently developed an in-house sweat analysis sensor for the iWatch, which will all work with iOS 8′s Health app to track various health metrics. 

This information also contrasts a number of past reports that pointed to the iWatch focusing on more simple functionality to make the health-tracking experience more accessible to everyone. While Apple hired a number of personnel with expertise in fields like blood glucose monitoring, it has been noted that such technologies may not make it into the first-generation iWatch, which require a lengthy-approval process from the FDA and complex hardware integration. 

Sony smart watchMeanwhile, rivals are not standing still. A search for iWatch at Amazon yields more than 1,000 products, including the impressive Sony Smart Watch SW2 for Android Phones.

BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer Wins Good Design Award

BACtrack Mobile BreathalyzerBACtrack’s new mobile breathalyzer has won top prize in the consumer electronics category of the Australian Good Design awards.

I have already written about this product, describing it as:

…an innovative device that connects to recent models of iPhone, iPad or iPod (with Android versions on the way), and allows you to process your data in all kinds of ways.

Thus, you can track your results over a period of time, helping you gain insight into your drinking habits and how your body copes with your drinking. You can receive an estimate of when your blood alcohol count will return to zero. You can keep records of what you drink and where. You can share data on social media. And more.

The judges said:

BACtrack MobileThis is a clever little piece of technology that works well. Accuracy, functionality and user interface considerations are paramount in a product such as this and the designers have delivered on all fronts. The product works seamlessly across a Bluetooth interface and is very intuiative to use. This technology offers users an important service that will have a positive impact on reducing the number of drink driving incidents on our roads.

The device retails for $200, but is considerably cheaper at Amazon and some other online outlets.

Get the latest price on the BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer Smartphone Breath Alcohol Tester.

“A Godsend” – Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

A further good review for the Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor, which I have already written about a couple of times, here and here.

Withings Help Mate appThis comes from the technology page of, and describes the monitor as “a godsend for anyone who has to take their pressures daily or who has to take them while on the road.”

Here is the conclusion of the review:

PROS: Absolutely wireless; iPhone or Android Health Mate app has easy setup; easy to take with you on trips; Bluetooth connectivity to your smartphone.

CONS: One size cuff doesn’t fit all arms; you run the device from the smartphone, so if you don’t have a smartphone you’re hooped.

TO SUM IT UP:  If you own a smartphone – as most people now do – and have high blood pressure that needs to be monitored, then the Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor should meet all your requirements. It’s totally wireless, works via Bluetooth and the App offers a myriad of different measurements that you can actually send to your doctor.

Check Amazon for the latest prices and special deals.

BACtrack Breathalyzers – Saving Lives For 13 Years

I’ve been a consistent supporter of BACtrack breathalyzers over many years, in several websites. Their products are generally sound, and their cheap prices have meant that these are no longer products only for the professional.

BACtrack Keyring BreathalyzerI have little doubt that BACtrack breathalyzers have saved many lives.

The company is celebrating its 13th anniversary.

In a press release it says:

When BACtrack was founded in 2001, breathalyzers were primarily for law enforcement use and costs were high. Keith Nothacker, CEO and Founder of BACtrack, recognized that someone could be arrested and sent to jail with a Blood Alcohol Content over 0.08%, but that the general public had no way to actually test and measure their own BAC. As an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, Nothacker developed the first line of consumer breathalyzers.

In 2004, BACtrack was the first company to ever receive U.S. Food & Drug Administration 510(k) marketing clearance to legally sell breathalyzers to consumers for personal use. Since then, the company has worked to simplify the product, reduce the cost of the technology, and increase consumer awareness.

Today, BACtrack offers a wide range of breathalyzers for both personal and professional use and they are used by consumers, businesses, schools, clinics, hospitals, law enforcement, and even the U.S. military around the world.

In April 2013, BACtrack launched the BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer, the first smartphone breathalyzer to combine professional-grade fuel cell sensor technology, Bluetooth connectivity, and app-enabled features. With BACtrack Mobile, users can obtain a BAC result, view safety information, and monitor how alcohol affects the body at each BAC point. The ZeroLine feature also shows a user approximately how long alcohol will remain in their bloodstream after consumption.

BACtrack’s suite of products continues to be recognized by top research and media publications. BACtrack is featured in the 2013 December issue of Popular Science and the BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer received the 2013 Best of What’s New Award (Popular Science’s top honor) for its innovation in health. Popular Science stated BACtrack and the other award recipients are “poised to change the world,” and they “challenge us to the see the future in a new light.”

Learn more about the BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer and other BACtrack breathalyzers at Amazon.

“Stylish and Moderately Priced” – Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

Withings-Wireless-Blood-Pressure-MonitorI have already written about the new Withings wireless blood pressure monitor, and now another good review comes from the MedGadget website.

The conclusion:

Having an easy to use blood pressure monitor can help improve compliance of patients that should be taking regular readings. The Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor is stylish and moderately priced, intuitive to use, and is kind of fun compared to drug store models. The additional advantage of Withings is that combined with data collected by its other products, in a single graph you can visualize readings from their smart scale, activity tracker, and sleep monitor combined with the blood pressure readings from this device. Emailing such data to your doctor is easy and shows a real step toward the type of medical management that will conceivably be ubiquitous in the future.

The device is now available at Amazon (it wasn’t when I wrote my original report). Check this out for user reviews and for the latest price.

Smartphone Breathalyzers – A Review from Popular Mechanics

breathometerPopular Mechanics has posted a review of two of the new wave of smartphone breathalyzers – the Breathometer (which I have already written about) and the Alcohoot. As a control it used Amazon’s top-rated breath monitor, the BACtrack Select S80 Professional Breathalyzer.

An excerpt:

The Breathometer requires a log-in that can be frustrating after you’ve had a few and forgotten what password you used the last time you had a few.

…Alcohoot doesn’t require a log-in. And the device has you blow into a tube instead of through a hole. (The Breathometer made us worry if we were doing it right.)

And its verdict:

Both devices are accurate. Alcohoot was easier to use and had better features, but we’re not sure they justify paying more than twice the price.

Breathometer retails for $50, Alcohoot for $119. Check out Amazon for product and pricing information.

New Trend – The Personal Testing Kit

The new trend in personal health monitors is the personal testing kit, according to the latest Global Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor Market Report from Research and Markets. In addition, some manufacturers are bundling two or more products together.

Omron HEM-712C Blood Pressure MonitorThe report states:

Vendors in the global ambulatory blood pressure monitor market are adopting product bundling strategies, where two or more products or services are combined to achieve product differentiation and to provide better product offerings. Moreover, patients prefer such packaged offerings to individual products as they are cost-effective.

Thus, vendors are offering cuffs along with blood pressure monitors and other accessories that customers need when monitoring their blood pressure level. Moreover, vendors have started introducing personal testing kits that have blood glucose monitors, blood pressure monitors, thermometers, and pulse oximeters, and these are becoming popular across the globe.