blood pressure

Checking your blood pressure could someday be as simple as pressing your finger against a smartphone case.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke and many heart diseases. An individual can have high blood pressure for years with no signs or symptoms. Nearly one-third of American adults have high blood pressure, causing the nation US$46 billion each year in medications and healthcare services.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases an individual’s risk of heart attack, stroke, chronic heart failure, vision loss, and even kidney disease. The exact causes of high blood pressure are not known, but it has long been linked to aging, smoking, obesity, and nutrition. The only way to find out if a person has high blood pressure is to have their blood pressure checked regularly.

To achieve these goals, a group of U.S. scientists have developed a unique smartphone case using 3D printing technology and integrated circuitry. By detecting the pressure of an artery in the finger, they were able to measure the applied force and resulting variable-amplitude blood volume change. Users can read their systolic, diastolic, and mean blood pressures directly through a mobile application in real time. The research was funded by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the scientists recently published their results in Science Translational Medicine.

In their study, scientists tested the device on 30 new users and found that nearly 90% of the participants were able to obtain consistent readings after only one or two attempts. The accuracy of the device is comparable with other types of detection methods like standard automatic cuff-based monitor and finger cuff device.

This newly developed device is a promising method for checking blood pressure anywhere, at all times. It has potential to be the future method of choice for daily blood pressure management. Further studies should be done to fully assess the accuracy before this device can launch to the market.

Written by Man-tik Choy, Ph.D

Reference: Chandrasekhar, A., et al. 2018. Smartphone-based blood pressure monitoring via the oscillometric finger-pressing method. Science Translational Medicine, 10(431), eaap8674. DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.aap8674.

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