About a week ago I posted on my Living With Atrial Fibrillation Facebook page a quick blurb about the new FDA-approved MobileHealth (MbH) wireless Bluetooth blood pressure monitor with atrial fibrillation detection. I reached out to TaiDoc, the company behind this device, to see if I could get them to send me one so I could review it. They were gracious enough to do that so here goes my review.
What Makes the MbH Blood Pressure Monitor Unique: Afib Detection
This device has a number of features that I’ll be highlighting in this review but there is one feature that makes it particularly unique. This is the first and only blood pressure monitor that I’m aware of that can actually detect afib.
Blood pressure monitors and afib usually don’t mix. If you’re in atrial fibrillation and you use a typical blood pressure monitor, it will either give you an error or an inaccurate heart rate reading. Other monitors will simply indicate an irregular heartbeat was detected without any further explanation.
The MbH wireless Bluetooth blood pressure monitor, on the other hand, makes afib detection a key feature. In addition to detecting afib, it also detects general irregular heartbeats, fast heartbeats, and slow heartbeats.
Features of the MbH Blood Pressure Monitor and the URIGHT BP Mobile App
There are four features of the monitor itself I want to highlight:
- Large easy-to-read LCD display
- Ability to store up to 200 readings
- Simple one-touch button to take a reading immediately
- No wires or cables
Because the MbH monitor is Bluetooth-enabled, you can easily pair it with any Apple or Android smartphone using the URIGHT BP mobile app. I’ll walk you through the app in a minute but here are some key features the app provides:
- Historical data of previous measurements
- Advanced measurements to screen for atrial fibrillation, fast heartbeats, slow heartbeats, and irregular heartbeats in general
- Measurement averages for the most recent 7, 14, or 30 days
- Detailed FAQ section on blood pressure, self-monitoring, diet, exercise, and medication
My First Impressions
I don’t know what I was expecting but when the monitor arrived in the mail and I took it out of the box, it was bigger than I thought it would be. It weighs a little over 11 ounces after you put in the 4 AAA batteries it requires (not included). That isn’t terribly heavy but to put that in perspective, it’s about double the weight of an iPhone 6 or 7. The monitor itself (I’m not including the arm band) is about six inches wide and about an inch thick.
To get a good idea of the size of this device, here is a picture of me holding it in one hand and my iPhone 6 in the other hand.
And here it is on my arm during a recording:
My other impression was that the MbH monitor was a very high quality device. It didn’t feel cheap or flimsy. It felt like a “medical-grade” device you’d get from a doctor’s office.
I was also impressed at how simple the device worked. I put the batteries in, put the arm band on my arm, and then pushed the power button and it instantly started working. I didn’t have to go through a bunch of settings or anything like that.
Finally, pairing the device with my iPhone 6 was totally painless. Sometimes pairing devices can be a pain but it was super easy. I turned on the Bluetooth function on my phone and then the Bluetooth button on the side of the monitor and clicked on the “Pair” button within the app and it was instantly paired and ready to go!
Taking My First Readings
You can take a blood pressure reading with or without using your smartphone. If you don’t use your smartphone you just put the MbH monitor on your arm and push the power button on the side of the monitor and it starts taking a reading.
I wanted to use my smartphone so I opened the URIGHT app and this screen appeared:
This is another cool feature of the monitor. If you look closely at that screen, you’ll see an option for “Average Mode.” If you turn that on, it will take three consecutive readings at once with a 20 second break after the first and second readings. It then gives you an average blood pressure and heart rate reading among the three readings.
This is helpful because your blood pressure is never constant. You can take multiple readings in a row and never get the same result. Some readings will be high and some will be low. By taking three readings and giving you an average, you’re getting a more accurate measurement of your blood pressure instead of a one-time snapshot. I selected this option and here was the result after the three readings were completed:
As a side note, when you take a reading the app will display an animated ECG of your heart rate. Here is a short video of the app “in action.” You’ll note the animated ECG it displays as it takes a reading.
I then took another reading without using the “average” option. After this reading was completed, I got this result:
You’ll notice this result was different. This time around it detected an irregular heartbeat – noted by the heartbeat icon and the IHB designation underneath it. That icon actually pulses so it’s an alert you can’t miss. If you click on the ECG graph at the bottom of that same screen, you go to this:
You’ll notice the red button/icon by the IHB designation. This is an alert indicating an irregular heart beat was detected. The other designations you see on this screen are:
HI – high, or fast, heartbeat
LO – low, or slow, heartbeat
IHB – irregular heartbeat
AF – atrial fibrillation
When I clicked on the red button, I was shown this screen:
Given my history of PVCs and PACs, combined with the fact that I had downed 20 ounces of Pepsi about 20 minutes before taking this reading, I’m not surprised it detected an irregular heart beat. I could feel it when I was taking the reading!
MbH Blood Pressure Monitor and Atrial Fibrillation Detection
As I just outlined how the MbH monitor detected an irregular heartbeat when I took a reading, had I been in atrial fibrillation, the process would have been the same. Instead of seeing an IHB alert, however, I would have seen an AF alert. After clicking on the AF alert button, I would have been shown this screen:
Given how it was able to detect a simple irregular heart beat in my one reading, I have no doubt that it would detect afib. It’s important to note, however, that these devices aren’t meant to be diagnostic tools so you can’t rely on them 100%. If it indicates AF, or atrial fibrillation, I would take a few more readings to see if you get the same indication. If you do, then you’re likely in afib and should share your results with your doctor to get an official diagnosis (and proper treatment)!
Measurement Averages and FAQs of the URIGHT BP App
The URIGHT BP app provides historical data of measurements as shown here:
And it also provides a useful FAQ tab that provides information on blood pressure, self-monitoring, diet, exercise, and medication. Here is a screenshot of the FAQ:
Pricing of the MbH Wireless Bluetooth Blood Pressure Monitor
At the time of this review, you can buy the MbH monitor for $118 on Amazon.com. Compared to other Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure monitors, it’s a bit on the high side. You can buy Bluetooth-enabled monitors anywhere between $55-$75.
Having said that, the MbH monitor is more than just a blood pressure monitor. You’re also getting the irregular heart beat and afib detection capabilities. If you factor this in, $118 is very reasonable. To get both afib detection and blood pressure monitoring from other devices, you’d spend $150 or more – and you’d have to use more than one device.
Who is the MbH Monitor Best For?
As much as I like this monitor, I wouldn’t recommend it as a primary afib-detection device. This device is a blood pressure monitor first and foremost. The afib detection feature is a nice “add on” but it doesn’t have the features you’d want in an “afib detection only device” such as the AliveCor monitor. For example, it doesn’t provide detailed ECGs that you can save or share with your doctor, nor does it have an ECG analysis service.
The MbH monitor is perfect for anyone that has to monitor their blood pressure on a regular basis, which is usually individuals managing high blood pressure, or hypertension. People with high blood pressure are at a greater risk of having atrial fibrillation so what better way to monitor both than with this device!
The Bottom Line of this MbH Blood Pressure Monitor Review
Overall, I was impressed with the quality, accuracy, and ease of use of this device. I also really liked the accompanying app. I have another Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure monitor but I don’t think I’ll be using it any more. The MbH monitor is just easier to use and I like the app a lot better than the apps used for other Bluetooth blood pressure monitors.
If you are trying to manage hypertension or have any condition that requires to you regularly monitor your blood pressure, then I would highly recommend the MbH monitor. Having the afib detection is just a bonus and “icing on the cake.” If you’re looking primarily for an afib-detection device, however, I would look at other devices such as the AliveCor monitor.