How can we compel people to take action on their own health? As the saying goes, what can be measured can be managed, which is why bringing heart health metrics home can help anyone take action to improve their health.
One metric that is particularly powerful is called pulse wave velocity, and although you’ve probably never heard of it, it’s recognised by the medical community as the best standalone indicator to provide a reliable assessment of overall cardiovascular health. For the first time, this measurement is available in the home, as a revolutionary feature of the Body Cardio scale.
What is pulse wave velocity?
Each time the heart beats it induces a wave along the aorta and arterial tree. Pulse wave velocity is the propagation speed of this wave along the arteries: it is correlated with blood pressure level and arterial stiffness. Diseases such as diabetes, cholesterol or high blood pressure induce stiff arteries, which lead to an elevated pulse wave velocity. Stiffer arteries indicate a greater risk for high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack.
Since many lifestyle factors go into a pulse wave velocity reading, it is considered to be the only standalone measurement that is able to give you a holistic picture of your cardiovascular health and your potential risk of having or developing hypertension.
As Dr Pierre Boutouyrie, cardiologist at Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris, says: “If we could have just one measurement for cardiovascular health, it would be pulse wave velocity. Alone it tells us more than all the other indicators combined.”
The good news is that pulse wave velocity can be improved over time to prevent cardiovascular diseases. And the better news is that now, for the first time, pulse wave velocity can be assessed at home.
Once pulse wave velocity is assessed, it can be improved via healthy lifestyle changes including, but not limited to:
- Losing weight if you are overweight or obese
- Engaging in physical exercise
- Limiting salt and alcohol intake
- Managing stress to help avoid elevated heart rate and blood pressure readings that can damage arteries over the long term.
If this metric is so powerful, why doesn’t everyone know their status?
Despite its medical value in assessing cardiovascular health, pulse wave velocity measurement is not widespread because:
- Traditional measurement takes at least 20 minutes
- It required a specific device called a sphygmomanometer
- A well-trained operator was needed to perform the measurement.
How does Body Cardio work?
Body Cardio is a scale like no other. The simple act of stepping on can measure pulse wave velocity based on the time it takes for blood wave to flow from the aorta to blood vessels in the feet. Thanks to its sensors, Body Cardio detects slight weight variations on the scale caused by heart beats and senses the moment when blood is ejected from the aorta and the moment when it reaches blood vessels in the feet. The time between these two events is then compared to the user’s height and Body Cardio can compute the pulse wave velocity while you step on the scale in approximately 15 seconds.
Body Cardio then pairs with the Health Mate app to interpret measurements and trends based on age, and tailors recommendations to improve cardiovascular health accordingly.
Dr Boutouyrie sees the enormous potential in empowering people to take control of their own health, at home. “We are entering a new medical era because this parameter that was previously restricted to laboratories is now accessible to the general public, who will be able to use such information to improve heart health,” he says.
Visit withings.com to know more about Body Cardio and pulse wave velocity