Image: Hugh Threlfall
September 09 2011
A pamphlet at my GP’s surgery says chaps in the heart-attack belt, but with no history or symptoms, should get their blood pressure taken once a year. I giggled. Once a year? Surely they mean once a day? Or four or five times a day, averaging out the readings?
I had to remind myself for the nth time that in British culture – almost uniquely – keeping tabs on your health if you’re not ill is quite alien. It amuses me that people talk about seeing “the doctor”, as if there’s only one in the world. I don’t regard myself as a hypochondriac, and my cardiologist says I have a very healthy heart (note, I have a cardiologist). Yet in my family, or possibly culture, you don’t see “the doctor” but a doctor, and then you want to know where he qualified, when, and what he’s published. And if you call for an appointment and he can see you immediately, you hang up, because he’s obviously just some schmuck. Plus, of course, you know the history, variations and quirks of your blood pressure far better than those of trivial things like your stock portfolio.
So, many is the happy evening Mrs Technopolis and I spend huddled over our Omron M7 blood-pressure monitor sharing priceless intimate moments discussing our systolic and diastolic readings and the current thinking on the significance of each.
However, these past few weeks we’ve been seeing another electronic sphygmomanometer. The Withings Smart Blood Pressure Monitor is the sexiest piece of medical equipment I’ve ever met. Coming from the chic Paris internet-connected devices specialist Withings, it works with your iPad, iPhone or your own customised Withings microsite to provide an irresistible historic, graphical record of your blood pressure. You can even buy it in Apple Stores, though I can’t see it flying off the shelves in the UK.
Sorry, Omron, but you’re history. I will soon be putting a sticker on you that says “My other blood-pressure monitor is a Withings”. And the Withings it is that now lives on my office desk.