Withings' smart scale can now assess your heart health

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Withings is adding a new cardiovascular measurement to its connected smart scales, promising to give an assessment on arterial health. The new index – which Withings is calling Vascular Age – compares current cardiovascular health with what would be typical for the individual's age bracket, plus an estimate on inner heart age.

That can then be classified as optimum, normal, or not optimum for their chronological age. It's not, to be clear, a direct way of measuring any specific issues with the heart or vascular system in general, though Withings says that it could help with an earlier identification of the warning signs of such conditions.

For instance, heart disease is already the leading cause of death in the US, with a 655,000 annual death toll. Arterial stiffness can be exacerbated by a high amount of saturated or trans fats in the diet, as well as smoking, and lead to constrictions as the heart tries to pump blood through the body.

Withings' system relies on Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV), which can measure arterial stiffness. The Withings Body Cardio scale tracks weight variations which happen as the heart beats, and then combine that with changes in the body's electrical current when the blood flow reaches the feet. By comparing the time difference between blood section by the heart, and its arrival at the feet, it can calculate PWV.

That figure is then contrasted with what would be normal for others in the same age bracket. Withings has been measuring PWV since 2016, and now the company says it has more than 80 million readings organized by age and other physical characteristics. Thanks to that, it can indicate how an individual's PWV reading compares.

The check itself takes under 30 seconds, the company says, and the scale can also track things like body fat percentage, how much of the individual is muscle or water, and bone mass. It tracks heart rate and general weight, too, of course. Stepping on allows it to automatically recognize up to eight different users, and there's synchronization with Withings' cloud and the company's smartphone app via Bluetooth and WiFi.

Vascular Age measurements will be added in an update for existing Withings Body Cardio and Nokia Body Cardio devices from today. New Body Cardio scales will come with it enabled out of the box, with the scale itself priced at $149.95.