Aktiia vs Withings: How Do They Compare?
High blood pressure has been identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the world’s most prevalent preventable disease. With no noticeable symptoms, the only way to detect and monitor the condition is by having your blood pressure checked.
And if you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, the more closely you can monitor your condition, the better. The European Society of Hypertension recommends home blood pressure monitoring as one of the best ways to learn how your blood pressure is affected by your medication and lifestyle.
New technology and research mean you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a home blood pressure monitor. The latest smart devices are portable, easy to fit into a busy lifestyle and even let you send your results straight to your doctor. Here, we’re going to compare the wearable Aktiia blood pressure monitor with Withings’ technically advanced BPM Connect and BPM Core.
How do smart blood pressure monitors work?
The two Withings models we’re looking at here, the BPM Connect and BPM Core, feature a soft upper-arm cuff with a built-in pump and display. Both are used in tandem with the free Withings Health Mate app, which receives readings via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to produce a health timeline. This can be exported to share with your doctor or sent to Apple Health or Google Fit.
The more expensive of the two, BPM Core, promises a ‘three-in-one heart health checkup’ and, in addition to reading blood pressure, also acts as a digital stethoscope and electrocardiogram (ECG).
The Aktiia device is a wearable bracelet, a bit like a slim fitness tracker, that comes with a cuff. Once a month, you use the cuff to provide a baseline blood pressure reading. The bracelet then uses an optical sensor (also known as a PPG or photoplethysmography sensor) to gather data from the arteries under the skin’s surface. The technology analyses the changing diameter of the arteries, plus the pulse waves travelling along them, to estimate blood pressure.
Data is collected 24/7 and sent wirelessly to the companion app on your phone, and you can quickly generate and share PDF reports with your doctor.
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How easy are they to use?
Both are easy to use, in different ways. After downloading the Withings app, you simply press the button on your device to pair it up. You press the button again to take a measurement, which takes about 30 seconds. Both Withings devices are designed for simplicity and ease of use, with no external pumps or tubes and a simple dot-matrix display to show the reading. One reviewer praised the BPM Connect for its ease of use, stating: ‘It was so simple to measure my blood pressure that I ended up taking readings all the time.’
With Aktiia, you download the app, which will guide you through the initialization process, including wearing the Aktiia bracelet and taking the baseline reading using the cuff. Once the set up is done, you just wear the bracelet and go about your daily life uninterrupted. Readings are taken automatically 24/7, including as you sleep. All you need to do is take another baseline reading when prompted in 30 days’ time.
How many blood pressure readings are taken?
With the Withings blood pressure monitors, you decide when to take a measurement. It’s fairly portable and discreet, and you can set reminders via the app to remind you.
The Aktiia monitor is different. Readings are taken continuously and automatically – every 90 minutes during the day and throughout the night. You won’t be aware it’s happening, so there’s no risk of anxiety about your blood pressure contributing to elevated readings (the white-coat effect).
Here, Aktiia offers a major benefit. Guidelines from both the European Society of Hypertension and European Society of Cardiology recommend that blood pressure is measured frequently to provide a truer representation of hypertension and observe how it responds to treatment. Research has also shown that your blood pressure at nighttime can be a better indicator of cardiovascular risk than measurements taken during the day.
Are they clinically validated?
All three devices are clinically validated, meaning they’ve been evaluated by an independent organisation and found to meet the stringent requirements of international organisations such as the British Hypertension Society (BHS), European Society for Hypertension (ESH), and International Protocol (IP).
Aktiia is medically supported by five clinical trials and over 20 peer-reviewed papers, with study results to prove that the solution is as accurate as accepted reference measurements.
What extra features do they offer?
Withings BPM Core does more than monitor blood pressure – it includes a digital stethoscope and electrocardiogram to give you a more complete picture of your cardiovascular health. The Health Mate app is clear and easy to understand, with colour-coded feedback providing an at-a-glance picture of your blood pressure. The Withings devices also offer an impressive battery life, claiming to last for up to six months.
With Aktiia, the main benefit lies in the fact that readings are taken automatically, day and night. This eliminates the possibility of masked or white-coat hypertension and, as the only clinically validated blood pressure monitor to give readings as you sleep, can give a more accurate measurement of circulatory health, as well as detecting nocturnal hypertension.
The frequent blood pressure readings help you and your doctor understand more about your condition and develop a more personalised treatment plan, including targeted lifestyle interventions. Like Withings, you get a useful, shareable report. The app also shows you when and for how long your blood pressure was in a healthy range, helping you understand the links between your lifestyle and blood pressure and make positive changes.
What do the devices look like?
All are sleek, discreet and thoughtfully designed. The Aktiia wearable is a slim, comfortable black band that you can quite easily forget you’re wearing. The Withings monitors are probably the best-looking cuffed devices you’ll find, with a soft grey cuff and minimal-looking built-in pump device. The cuff wraps around the device for storage, making it about the size of a sunglasses case.
Aktiia vs Withings BPM Connect and BPM Core: at a glance
|Withings BPM Connect
|Withings BPM Core
|How it works
|70+ readings a week
|View data and trends
|Share with your doctor
|Stethoscope / ECG
|Up to 6 months
|Up to 6 months
|Up to 9 days
The bottom line
When it comes to managing hypertension, knowledge is power. Any device that enables a better understanding our blood pressure and the factors that trigger it are a good thing, and the new generation of smart blood pressure monitors gives you access to more data and understanding than ever before.
Disclaimer: If you have hypertension, we encourage you to speak to your healthcare professional if you plan to make changes to your blood pressure monitoring routine.
WHO, World Health Day 2013: measure your blood pressure, reduce your risk, April 3, 2013 – https://www.who.int/news-measure-your-blood-pressure-reduce-your-risk
Blood Pressure Monitoring, 2021 – https://www.eshonline.org/blood-pressure-monitoring
Easy blood pressure monitoring, November 13, 2019- https://www.digitaltrends.com/withings-connect-review
How Nighttime Blood Pressure May Be More Important Than Daytime Readings, November 1, 2020- https://www.healthline.com/how-nighttime-blood-pressure-may-be-more-important-than-daytime-readings