High blood pressure puts your health at risk. It can lead to coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, vision loss, and chronic kidney disease. As many as a third of people with the condition can be unaware they have a problem. They feel the odd twinge or headache, but simply put this down to feeling a little under the weather.
Essential reading: Top smart blood pressure monitors
There may be lots of gimmicks or unnecessary bits of equipment for your health, but rest assured that home blood pressure monitors (BPMs) are not gimmicks and they are highly useful. Taking regular measurements is particularly important as you get older, as the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle can build up and your blood pressure can increase. If you smoke, are obese, are physically inactive, or have diabetes or high cholesterol, you may also be at an increased risk.
Omron is one of the most established brands on the home BPM market today. The company boasts an almost bewildering range of monitors for sale, the majority of which are for use on the upper arm. Its devices are consistently ranked as the USA’s most trusted home BPM suppliers and in terms of world sales they have sold over 100 million units.
Omron’s latest connected device, the Omron EVOLV, made its debut at CES 2017. It has became widely available in retail pharmacies since.
Features and software
In terms of design EVOLV is a sleek looking one-piece monitor which has no tabletop unit, no tubes and no wires. Because of this the product is highly portable and easy to operate. Users wrap the entire unit around their upper arm and the blood pressure reading is displayed in bold numbers right on the face of the device.
In the box, you get the main unit, four AAA alkaline batteries, a square travel pouch and a couple of little instruction booklets. The device is not chargeable which can be viewed as a minus, but at least there are no additional wires to keep track of or get tangled in. You can take approximately 300 readings with a new set of batteries.
Manufactured in Japan, the build quality is top notch and that’s evident right away. Omron has introduced a new type of cuff which circles easily around the upper arm, fitting 22cm to 44cm in circumference. I found it very easy to put on, and strangely comforting to feel it closing in around my upper arm before I’ve even had a chance to secure the velcro fastener.
Unlike most other smart monitors, EVOLV has a LED readout which shows your latest reading so no phone or app is necessary. The internal memory allows you to store up to 100 readings, but to get the most out of the monitor, it is best to sync with the smartphone app on a regular basis. This is done via Bluetooth and it allows you to view a history of your readings and averages.
The unit has highly intuitive controls so can be used by older folks easily. There are only two buttons on the device. One of them STARTS/STOPS the monitor and the other is a Bluetooth connect button. You will find that to use the monitor, pretty much you will only need to use the START/STOP button.
BPMs that take readings from the wrist have grown in popularity in recent years. The problem is, these types of monitors are typically going to provide you with less accurate readings. This is because BPMs are extremely sensitive to body position. But even with every precaution, blood pressure measurements taken at the wrist may be less accurate because the wrist arteries are narrower and not as deep under your skin as those of the forearm. So its a choice between convenience of wrist monitors and accuracy of upper arm monitors. For me, accuracy wins every time.
EVOLV provides you with a complete view of your blood pressure with systolic, diastolic and pulse readings. It also detects the appearance of irregular heartbeats during measurement and gives a warning signal with readings.
The company has introduced an exclusive new heart health algorithm it calls Advanced Accuracy, to measure more data points for more clinically-accurate readings. The algorithm also helps to eliminate interference which may be caused due to movement or other external factors.
When you first operate the BPM, you will need to pair with your smartphone device. Make sure the Bluetooth on your smart device is turned on, download the Omron Connect App from the App Store or Google Play; open the App and follow the set-up and pairing instructions. Your monitor is paired when “OK” is on the display.
To take a measurement, you need to be relaxed and comfortably seated, at a comfortable room temperature. Sit in a chair with your legs uncrossed and your feet flat on the floor. Position the cuff correctly on your upper arm, simply press the START/STOP button and the arm cuff will start to inflate and take your measurement. Omron’s Intellisense Technology makes sure the cuff is inflated to the ideal level for each use. Ideally, you should use the same arm when measuring your blood pressure each time because values can vary between your arms.
The device is quick to take a reading. Really quick. I’ve used it multiple times per day for over a week and have only had maybe 1 or 2 failed readings during this period. This was typically because I moved my body too much during a measurement. EVOLV will also warn you if the cuff is wrapped too loosely.
The monitor uses the oscillometric B. method of blood pressure measurement. This means it detects your C. blood movement through your brachial artery and converts the movements into a AD. digital reading.
When the monitor detects an irregular rhythm two or more times during a measurement, the irregular heartbeat symbol will appear on the display with the measurement values. An irregular heartbeat rhythm is defined a sa rhythm that is 25% less or 25% more than the average rhythm detected while the monitor is measuring your blood pressure.
As mentioned, the display shows measurements right there on your arm, no smartphone required. And that’s probably a good thing, as the Omron app isn’t all that impressive.
The monitor holds 100 readings. However, only the most current reading is displayed on the monitor. When the monitor memory reaches 100 readings, your new readings will automatically overwrite the stored readings.
By design, EVOLV doesn’t automatically sync readings with your phone. You have to launch the Omron app from your phone, power on the EVOLV and then initiate the sync from the BPM or the app. After your readings have been transferred, press the START/STOP button to turn the monitor off or allow 2 minutes two pass and it will switch itself off.
The Omron Connect app tracks your daily measurements, giving you a clear view of your overall health. The app is very simple, perhaps too simple for my liking. It shows you your latest reading, and weekly and monthly trend displayed in a graph. You also have the option of viewing and exporting all measurement data. And that’s pretty much it. The information integrates with Apple Health which is very useful as it allows you to hold all your health data in one place.
I hope Omron updates the app to include more visually pleasing ways of displaying the data, and guidance and analysis of your results would be a plus. If you prefer simplicity you will like the app. If not, you can always opt for another compatible app such as MedM BP app.
To allow other people to use this blood pressure monitor, make sure to transfer all of your readings to your Omron Connect app account so there are no readings left in the blood pressure monitor memory.
People sharing this blood pressure monitor will need to create their own Omron Connect account. Once the other person has their own Omron Connect account created, they can then take their blood pressure measurement using this device, and transfer their readings to their Omron Connect account.
Omron products have been ranked highly and much praised by doctors regularly over the past 40 years. Many renowned physicians have attested to the product quality and have recommended its use to patients. If you’re a current Omron device owner, you know how good of quality it is. The EVOLV is no exception.
For some customers, the older generation in particular, one of its strengths is that you can use it completely independently of your smartphone. All you are required to do to take a reading is press one button. The downside is, if you want to view historical readings you will need to manually initiate a sync of your data with the app from time to time.
With this device Omron has married their accurate technology with connectivity. I found the operation to be very smooth, fast and noiseless. The convenience of having no bulky heavy units or long tubes cannot be overstated!
All in all I was really impressed with the ease of set-up and smooth operation. While self-checking is not a substitute for seeing a doctor, being able to regularly measure and most importantly track blood pressure can literally save your life.
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