REVIEW – A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. Since then, it has continued to increase to the point where my doctor would like me to regularly check and monitor. I’ve tried products offered by chain drug stores but all have proven to be wildly inaccurate. When I was offered the opportunity to review the Wellue Blood Pressure and ECG Monitor, I accepted skeptically. Is the Wellue better than the 3 others I have tried or is it an also-ran? Let’s find out…
What is it?
The Wellue Blood Pressure Monitor with EKG is a home medical device akin to the sphygmomanometer found in your doctor’s office. In this case, the Wellue device connects via Bluetooth to your phone or tablet to allow you to keep track and chart over time your readings.
What’s in the box?
- The Wellue Blood Pressure Monitor with attached arm cuff
- A USB-A to USB-C charging cable
- A quick start guide and a user manual
How does it work?
The first step is to charge the monitor. Zero to a full charge should take just shy of 2 hours.
While the monitor is charging, go to either the Apple App Store or Google Play and download the ViHealth app. And I have to say I was pleasantly surprised – finally, an app that doesn’t ask you to create an account or give up personal information just to be able to use a piece of hardware you purchased. The app keeps all of your data on your device and on the monitor itself – expected, as this is a medical device and most likely falls under HIPAA regulations. Still, they didn’t ask for my email address, so off to a nice start.
Pairing is easy – just start the app and it will tell you there are no devices connected. Power on the monitor, and almost immediately the app will see the monitor and pair with it. No going into settings. This is about as Plug and Play as Bluetooth gets.
With all the prep work complete, it’s time to take the first reading. Slide the cuff onto your left arm and sit quietly with both feet on the floor for about 5 minutes. When you are ready. tap the orange Start/Stop button and the cuff will inflate.
At the end of the run, the monitor screen will show your reading. If you have the app open, this is the screen you will see as the reading is in progress.
And what you see when the reading is complete.
There is a quirk in the app, but it is a very minor one. There doesn’t appear to be any way to set a default user. You can see my name there, but when the reading is uploaded to the phone it comes in as an anonymous user. Each and every time I had to press the user and select my name from the list. I think this is an attempt to make this a multi-user device, but most people would not be sharing both the device and the monitor. I suppose I could just leave it at the default user without adding my name, but then my OCD would kick in and my head would explode.
Here is the graph you see when you select blood pressure on the tool bar at the bottom of the app’s main screen. It is a concise way of charting your progress (or lack thereof) over time.
As you can see in the screenshot, there is a share button at the top right. The app can share your data in either PDF or CSV format and can include the last week, the last month or the last 3 months. If you are a numbers wonk like me (and who isn’t?), you can import this information into Excel and create all kinds of charts. Think how impressed your doctor will be with the presentation!
The Wellue monitor will also deliver Electro-Cardiogram (or ECG) readings. For this, one side of the monitor has to be pressed against the palm of your hand. The other side of the monitor can be pressed into your other palm, the inside of your thigh or your chest. Personally, I found the “between the hands” approach much more convenient.
With the device in hand (pun intended), simply press the hamburger button (the one with the three lines) and the ECG will start. Sit still for about 30 seconds while the reading is taken. There does not appear to be the same sort of interactive reading screen in the app for ECG, so when the reading is complete, the monitor will upload the reading and it can be viewed in the app.
Does it work?
More to the point – is it accurate? That’s been my issue with literally all of the other monitors I have purchased. My test is a simple one – I take the monitor with me to a doctor’s visit. After they take my blood pressure with their tool, while waiting for the doctor I do it again with mine and compare. I don’t expect exact readings but in the same range is a necessity.
The last time I did this (back in January with a top of the line device from a major drug store chain), my doctor’s reading was 145/92. Not great, but probably caused by the salt rim I enjoy on my margaritas or perhaps the 30 minute drive to the office through north Houston traffic. My device, though, showed 127/74. While that looks like encouragement to enjoy another margarita, in reality, it makes me concerned that I operate day to day with bad information. And that doesn’t lead to healthy choices.
As this happened with every device I have ever had, I did not have high expectations. Last Thursday I visited my doctor again and the reading was 139/89. I put on the Wellue monitor and sat patiently while the reading was taken. And the result? 138/87. Wow – that was the closest I have ever seen. But once can be an anomaly, so I asked my doctor if we could do it again at the end of the visit. As he is a gearhead like me, the answer was “sure, no problem”. His device: 140/91. Wellue: 140/90.
Finally. An accurate home medical device that doesn’t set you back a couple of hundred dollars. Plus it can help chart progress in a much more granular way than quarterly visits to my doctor.
What I like
- It’s accurate. Full stop.
- Easy to use and is small enough to travel well
- The ECG function makes this a must have for heart patients, diabetics, or anyone that needs to routinely check their heart rhythm
What I’d change
- Allow setting a default user in the app
I went into this review expecting more of the same. I came out the other side with a device that will help me make healthier choices and hopefully live longer. The Wellue Blood Pressure Monitor has all the right stuff – accuracy, portability, connectivity – to make this a valuable addition to my health care toolbox. And at $100 (with deals that lower the price out there), it is worth every penny. If you have to routinely check your blood pressure, my condolences. In the same breath, you can’t do much better than the Wellue monitor.