Ready for time travel? Let's go back to the origins of modern medicine and slowly make our way back to the twenty-first century, stopping only to highlight the 15 most decisive moments that lead to the development of today's blood pressure monitors. We will see that although the measurement of blood pressure has now been a basic medical practice for about 100 years, used by physicians to make a diagnosis, it is only recently that self-tracking your BP has become a reality.
Hi there! Feel free to stick around and read this, but you should know that we have an all-new, updated and revised history of the blood pressure monitor, and it includes Wonder Woman!
Galen, a Roman physician, was the first to write about the human heart, saying it is the source of the body’s heat. His book was translated, became a best-seller worldwide and remained unquestioned for centuries. Among his inaccuracies he thought the heart only had two chambers when it actually has four.
The first study on blood circulation was published in 1628 by William Harvey—an English physician. He came to the conclusion that the heart acts as a pump. At that point it wasn’t clear that blood circulated, but after a little calculation he was pretty sure that blood is not “consumed” by the organs. The physician then concluded that blood must be going though a cycle.
The stethoscope, an essential tool for taking blood pressure, is invented by French doctor René Laennec in 1817. Doctors don’t need to put their ears to patients’ bodies anymore! The auscultatory method he developed uses the stethoscope to tell the difference between the systole and diastole pressures.
In his doctoral thesis “Recherches sur la force du cœur aortique” published in 1828, French physician Jean Poiseuille is the first to show how to measure blood pressure with a mercury manometer. To quantify blood pressure Jean uses the “Centimeters of Mercury” unit (cmHg), which is still being used by doctors nowadays.
French company Withings released the Smart Blood Pressure Monitor, which could be plugged directly into an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The measurements were automatically uploaded and synched with the user’s account, and were made available anytime, anywhere. Sharing readings with your family or doctor became child’s play.
Following the success of the original BP monitor, Withings launched the Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor. Thanks to the Bluetooth technology that was added, this model offered more compatibility options. You could use it with Android or iOS devices, wirelessly, or with your device’s cable. Later, Nokia offered compact wireless blood-pressure monitors BPM and BPM+.