Garmin is releasing a blood pressure monitor to check your heart health – and here's why

Man using home blood pressure monitor
(Image credit: Getty)

Garmin is preparing to launch a new blood pressure monitoring cuff, which will sync data with your Garmin Connect account so you can view it in the mobile app.

The latest update to the Garmin Connect app describes something called the Garmin Index BPM. The news was first picked up by the5krunner, and at Advnture we've found the full details on Garmin's own website.

The device shares its name with Garmin's Index line of smart scales, which monitor your weight, BMI, and body composition (including bone mass, water, muscle, and fat). This data is sent to Garmin Connect alongside stats from your sports watch and other devices, and is used to help calculate stats such as your Fitness Age.

Garmin's documentation states that stats and advice from the Garmin Index BPM are based on advice from the American Heart Association, and aren't intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. However, high blood pressure (hypertension) is often referred to as 'the silent killer' due to the lack of symptoms in its early stages, and the device could provide an early warning that's worth raising with your doctor.

It appears that Garmin is also aiming the device at people who aren't used to using a blood pressure monitor and need a helping hand to get an accurate reading. The Garmin app will offer tips to help get good results, such as not using the cuff over clothing, avoiding caffeinated drinks or exercise 30 minutes beforehand, and avoiding high sodium foods or smoking.

Why not a watch?

So why a cuff? Why doesn't Garmin build the tech into a sports watch like Samsung did with the Galaxy Watch 3? The answer is accuracy. 

While some of the best GPS watches can help you keep tabs on your blood pressure, they do so through a method called pulse wave analysis, which uses the same optical sensor as the watch's heart rate monitor and analyzes changes in the light reflected back from your wrist.

Put simply, they track the time taken for blood to move between two arterial sites (pulse transit time), which correlates with blood pressure. The more elastic your blood vessels are, the faster they can contract and the shorter the transit time. If your blood vessels are hardened by plaque, they can't contract and relax as fast, which means slower transit time and higher blood pressure.

The downside is that watches like this need regular calibration with a conventional home blood pressure monitor, so you can't avoid the inflatable cuff altogether, and they can't provide actual systolic and diastolic readings.

There have been rumors circulating for years that Apple is working on a watch that will accurately measure blood pressure, but so far nothing has materialized, so the Garmin Index BPM may be the best thing we get in the near future. We're keeping our ear to the ground for more news and will bring you further info as soon as we have it.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.