Aktiia is the bracelet that saves you from hypertension | Test and review

Aktiia is the bracelet that saves you from hypertension | Test and review

Hypertension is a clinical condition to which we are all potentially subject, sooner or later, in our life. Clearly, increasing age, nutrition, lifestyle can affect the increase in blood pressure, and the occurrence of this condition increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart failure. Making the heart work at a higher rate than what is considered normal for each subject is not good, and if we realize that we suffer from hypertension, even before the onset of obvious symptoms, it will allow us to run for cover. >
One in three Italians suffers from hypertension, there is no gender distinction, and half of those affected by this condition are considered to be in a risk situation. These are the data released by various studies carried out by associations and which can be easily found online. In short, it's not something to be taken lightly, and controlling yourself a little more as you age is certainly good.

This bracelet can be used by those suffering from hypertension or those who suspect and must diagnose the clinical status, or even by those who want to prevent hypertension, perhaps with natural actions such as training and nutrition , perhaps because his family has had cases of hypertension. So a diagnostic and prevention tool.

How Aktiia is made

Aesthetically Aktiia is, as already indicated, a bracelet to put on the wrist, not different from many fitness trackers today on the market. The main difference is that it doesn't have a screen, it has no buttons, and its design makes it look more like a regular bracelet rather than an analysis and control device. The metal buckles, the glossy ceramic cover count it, to all intents and purposes, in the ranks of fashion accessories.

It is not just our guess, in fact for the whole trial period, almost a month, there has not been a single person we have come into contact with who has asked us what that bracelet was on our wrist, since there is no visible element that can attract attention, if not the aesthetic taste.

Having a product on the wrist that , even aesthetically, he continually remembers the condition, perhaps creating anxiety that amplifies the state would have been counterproductive, while masking a control device in something completely "medically anonymous" seemed the right choice.

The strap is made of rubber, very light and must be worn on the wrist, just above the slightly protruding bone. It shouldn't be worn too tightly, but it shouldn't move too much either. All the electronics are inserted inside the small flattened cylinder, which almost looks like a polished onyx stone. The sensors for detecting blood flow are aligned on the surface in contact with the skin, where we also find the contacts necessary for charging the battery. Only a smooth surface is perceived in contact with the skin.

How Aktiia works

To use Aktiia you will need to download the smartphone application, available on iOS and Android, perform the classic registration and then the pairing of the bracelet. This phase is no different than the pairing of any other bluetooth accessory, a step by step guide is proposed on the screen that will guide you.

After the pairing of the bracelet, the pressure measurement is instead required through the classic cuff , a procedure that is guided by the application. You will have to wear the cuff on one arm, secure it firmly with the velcro, remain motionless for a few minutes and let the device inflate and deflate a couple of times, detecting blood pressure.

This procedure is necessary. because the device needs a starting blood pressure value, on which to calculate the differences detected by the sensor positioned on the cuff. By means of photoplethysmography it is possible to detect the differences in arterial pressure, and by crossing the data of the differences detected with the nominal starting values, the increase or decrease in blood pressure is calculated.

A pressure measurement is requested via a cuff. once a month, in such a way as to be able to confirm the readings made by the cuff.

Each time the application is opened, the data synchronization is started and the pressure values ​​(minimum and maximum ) and heart rate; the values ​​indicated are the average ones in the measurement range. In the application it is possible to consult the hourly measurements, the daily or weekly values. It is also possible to request the creation of a report, a useful tool that you can share with your doctor.

The app also indicates the charge status of the cuff and you can add other potentially clinically relevant information , such as the times you usually wake up and go to bed (to better understand your blood pressure readings) or the medications you are taking.

Our experience

We have used Aktiia for about a month before writing this article, and also read other reviews of users who have or are testing it, to better understand the genesis of some criticisms. In fact, if you read the reviews on the App Store / Play Store, you will also find diametrically opposed opinions, and the negative reviews denounce a "bad reading" of the pressure, some say that it only works at night. We tried to better understand what happened in the months always during our chat with Mattia Bertschi, Co-founder of Aktiia.

First of all let's say that in our case we were satisfied because, despite some missing reading, mostly in the hours of greatest activity, on the whole we believe that having a constant control that goes beyond 90% of the hours of the day is an excellent result. Let us always remember that the alternative, especially for those who are in a state in which they have to diagnose the state of hypertension, is to actively measure the pressure several times a day, a situation that could even give slightly unreal data since the operation of measuring blood pressure pressure alone could cause additional stress and worry.

Having a device that, totally anonymously and silently, measures our pressure continuously and multiple times per hour is certainly a good thing. The hours when the cuff was unable to detect the pressure are usually the central hours of the day, where we are most active and where there are many factors that may have led to a bad reading, such as moving the cuff or a reading or too high or too low which is considered untrusted by the software. Mattia explained to us that there are many factors, and the person's physiognomy and skin type can make reading easier or more difficult, but he also confirmed that many small improvements have been made over the months.

For example, in the initial phase, they realized that the number of readings carried out during the day was too low and therefore could lead to the lack of data reported by some users; with a firmware update they have increased the amount of readings during the day compared to the night, obtaining the optimal result that we have experienced in person.

Aktiia's autonomy ranges from 7 to 10 days approximately, and this autonomy can change based on the amount of measurements that are made; if the bracelet fails to detect the bracelet fails to detect data accurately, it will try to take other measurements or also vary the power of the LEDs used to illuminate the measurement area. These factors, if repeated, can affect battery life more or less. In our case we recharged Aktiia once a week, and in all cases the remaining battery was between 20% and 30%.

There is however one feature that did not convince us, namely the total absence of warnings: we agree on making this product "invisible", considering the psychological point of view, avoiding that there is something that can continually remind a patient of their non-optimal state, but to know the status of the battery or to to synchronize data you need to open the application. We would have preferred the presence of a small LED or a small vibrating motor, to be activated only when necessary, that is when the battery is almost empty or the memory is full. Mattia has confirmed that they are studying ways to "push the user to open the app more often", we'll see what this means for the next firmware and App evolutions.

In our experience we can tell you that the first days we opened the app several times a day, but after a few weeks, getting used to Aktiia's presence, we forgot about it and we only updated the data every two or three days. Obviously, every person has different habits, but how can there be those who are super attentive and habitual, there are those who can forget it for weeks, with the result of finding the bracelet unloaded perhaps already for a few days, having lost precious readings, or even memory full. In short, there should be a warning of some kind, either from the bracelet or from the App, which however is subject to permissions from the smartphone operating system.

Another point on which we are questioned is why Aktiia is not certified to be waterproof; after all, it is a bracelet to keep worn continuously and this seemed a bit strange to us. We were confessed that the goal was to make it waterproof, but problems were encountered during the design phase that could not be solved quickly. In fact, a new waterproof version is expected. However, during our test we did not encounter any serious problems of use, as it was enough for us to remove it before taking a shower. Of course, if you intend to spend a few weeks at the beach, it could be a major limitation.

We would like to congratulate you on the comfort of the bracelet, despite the rubber material which is certainly not the "softest" in circulation. Whoever writes to you struggles to sleep with a watch on their wrist, but Aktiia has not given us any problems.

In short, the general experience was positive, both in terms of use and for data readings .

Why Aktiia is different from smartwatch and fitness tracker

It is legitimate to ask why Aktiia is different from various smartwatches or fitness trackers equipped with a similar blood pressure reading system. Aktiia is a medical device IIa, a certification given by the Ministry of Health and which can only be obtained after passing certain checks and certifications. The same cannot be said for other smartwatches or fitness trackers; some products, such as Apple smartwatches or some Samsung models, have obtained some certifications, but do not offer Aktiia's usage model.

In our opinion it is not even comparable with the pressure measurement functions we have on some wearables. A smartwatch offers many functions including blood pressure measurement, and is hardly bought for this use. Aktiia must be purchased by those who have as their main goal to control blood pressure, to monitor a clinical status or to prevent it. And if you have this need, you will have the certainty of doing it with a product that has had to undergo various tests and checks to obtain medical device certification.

Can doctors recommend it?

We asked Mattia how this product is seen by the medical environment, or if there was a scientific information action taking place about it. We were reminded that Aktiia was born as a startup, that there are programs in this sense but that everything is evolving. Likewise some doctors have noticed the product and inquired about it, or some patients have asked their doctor if such a product was useful. In short, it is currently more of a sort of "word of mouth" in the medical community, so if you too have hypertension problems or otherwise need to monitor your blood pressure, you could evaluate this product and talk to your doctor.

Verdict, who should use Aktiia

Our experience with Aktiia has been positive, and despite some possible points for improvement, it is already a tool that works well and allows you to keep your blood pressure monitored arterial blood pressure during the day.

It costs around 210 euros, and we do not want to give evaluations on the price, mainly because there are no competing and certified products with which to make a comparison. Clearly, this price could be totally justified by those who have to diagnose or monitor a state of hypertension, a little less justified by those who want to be monitored only for prevention (although it is always important). It is certainly not a product for the curious and, as mentioned, in our opinion it cannot be compared with any smartwatch or fitness tracker.

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