Do you or a loved one use blood pressure tracking apps? Depending on what kind you're using, you could be getting unreliable or wildly inaccurate readings.
Admittedly, these apps are easier and much more comfortable to use than that awful cuff at the doctor's office, but what you don't know about these apps can kill you.
Doctors have recently issued a warning against these blood pressure tracking apps. One reason is because they had no idea that these kinds of apps were so popular - they've been downloaded between 900,000 and 2.4 million times. Another reason is because less than 3% of these apps were developed with the help of healthcare agencies.
Are you worried yet? You should be. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, occurs in one of every three U.S. adults. High blood pressure is also called the "silent killer" because it increases the risk of heart disease and stroke but has no warning signs.
The short answer is that you can't trust your health to any of the apps on the market. Over 70% of these apps are helpful for keeping track of your blood pressure information, but as for giving you accurate readings on your current blood pressure, forget it.
"There is virtually no information at all about how accurate these apps are," Dr. Karen Margolis, director of clinical research at HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research in Minneapolis, said. "It doesn't sound to me like it's ready for routine use in any way that medical decisions could be based on."
"The idea that you're going to be able to stick your finger on the camera of your smartphone and get an accurate blood pressure reading is pretty farfetched right now," she told Reuters Health.
The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any of these apps for use. While many of these apps have helpful ways to stick to medication and dietary guidelines, or export data directly to your doctor, it's no substitution for your healthcare professional's diagnosis.
If you currently use a blood pressure or other heart app to keep track of your health, I recommend that you see your doctor immediately. You could be getting wildly inaccurate readings that could complicate your health or give a fatally false sense of security.
Remember, there's no app that can replace a good doctor.