Blood pressure and the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2: Regular monitoring is key to diagnosis

Fitness trackers generally measure your heart rate, daily activity, and other basic metrics. The Apple Watch can serve as an ECG indicator, but now we see the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 supports service as a blood pressure monitor.

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My primary use of wearables is for tracking my sleep, stress, and running. While the ECG function of the Apple Watch has been vital for some folks, I tried the ECG several times and had normal readings so it was of limited value to me. This functionality is also coming to Galaxy Watch users sometime this year.

One key health measurement that interests me is blood pressure monitoring so I've been anticipating the release of this capability for the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. Last month the folks at XDA Developers posted an article detailing the steps to enable this on your Active 2 now.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 LTE review: The best smartwatch for Android users, maybe for iPhone users too

A couple of days ago, Samsung officially rolled out BP monitoring support in Korea after it passed through regulatory approval. This functionality is planned for release in the US but needs FDA approval prior to release. Rumors indicated the Galaxy Watch 3 may launch with the blood pressure monitoring feature so we may see the official US release in the next few months.

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Image: Samsung

As a teenager, I was all set to attend either the Air Force Academy or the US Coast Guard Academy when the Department of Defense doctor determined I had a heart murmur so my dreams were dashed for a while. Since that period of time, my blood pressure has always been elevated while at the doctor's office and it's been diagnosed that I have white coat syndrome. This results in me showing high blood pressure just about every time I visit the doctor's office, but then taking my blood pressure at home has shown to be in the upper end of the normal range.

The ability of the Galaxy Watch Active 2, I have since purchased a Golf Edition model after the LTE version had serious issues with T-Mobile, to measure my blood pressure anytime throughout the day is key to helping me check to see if I might have hypertension or not. Unfortunately, after a couple of weeks of testing, it is clear I need to visit my doctor for further evaluation.

Also: How Apple Watch saved my life

To use the blood pressure functionality, you need to install an update to the Watch Active 2 and install a separate Samsung Health Monitor app on an Android phone. Blood pressure readings are not integrated into Samsung Health.

There is also a three-reading calibration process with a certified blood pressure cuff where you have your Watch Active 2 positioned and measuring as the cuff captures your blood pressure. After this calibration process, you can then use your Galaxy Watch Active 2 to measure your blood pressure throughout the day. Every 28 days you will be prompted to recalibrate the Watch Active 2 with your blood pressure cuff.

Prior to the release of this functionality, I was bouncing between several different wearables. Given my current state of rather high blood pressure readings, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 has earned its place on my wrist. It's exciting to see more advanced health tracking data coming to wearables, but remember these devices are not medical devices and the data should only be used as an indicator for further evaluation by a medical professional.