Blood pressure check? There may soon be an app for that

March 7, 2018
Smartphone based device for real-time monitoring of BP. Credit: Anand Chandrasekhar

Someday soon, a simple touch of a finger to a smartphone case might be enough to provide instant, accurate blood pressure readings.

That's the promise of new technology detailed by developers in the March 7 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Researchers say they've invented a special phone case, using high-tech 3-D printing, that contains an embedded optical sensor on top of a "force" sensor.

When the user presses a finger onto the sensor embedded in the case, "it provides measurable pressure on an artery in the finger in the same way that a blood pressure cuff squeezes an artery in the arm," according to a journal news release.

That information is then fed to a smartphone app that converts the data to a real-time blood pressure reading, displayed on the phone, says a team led by Ramakrishna Mukkamala of Michigan State University.

The researchers tested the usability of the device on 30 people, and found that about 90 percent could position their finger correctly and get consistent readings after only one or two attempts.

Two heart specialists said the device might one day be a game-changer.

"An accurate technique is critical for making helpful decisions in the management of hypertension," said Dr. Joseph Diamond. He directs nuclear cardiology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

Video demonstration of the smartphone-based blood pressure monitoring device. Credit: A. Chandrasekhar et al., Science Translational Medicine (2018)

He stressed, however, that more rigorous testing must be done before any new blood pressure measuring technology becomes standard.

Dr. Rachel Bond helps direct women's heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She noted that recent changes to the American Heart Association's guidelines—lowering the threshold for to 130/80 mmHg—means "more people will likely need access to monitoring devices that are simple to use outside of the doctor's office."

Still, "with the use of any [portable] device, I strongly encourage the patient bring them in to the office to test for accuracy and allow for validation," Bond said.

The research was funded by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Explore further: Severe pre-eclampsia often leads to undetected high blood pressure after pregnancy

More information: Anand Chandrasekhar et al. Smartphone-based blood pressure monitoring via the oscillometric finger-pressing method, Science Translational Medicine (2018). DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aap8674

Related Stories

Severe pre-eclampsia often leads to undetected high blood pressure after pregnancy

February 5, 2018
Lingering hypertension is common and may go unnoticed among women who have severe pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension.

New treatments for drug resistant high blood pressure

January 22, 2018
High blood pressure – also called hypertension – is a dangerous condition which, if left untreated, can lead to stroke, kidney problems and/or heart attack.

Blood pressure: know your numbers

April 18, 2017
(HealthDay)—Having high blood pressure makes you more likely to have heart disease or a stroke. But because high blood pressure doesn't usually cause warning symptoms, you could be at risk without even knowing it.

Adults without partners monitor their blood pressure less frequently

September 16, 2017
Having a lower education level and no partner is associated with a lower frequency of home blood pressure monitoring, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association's Council on Hypertension 2017 Scientific ...

High blood pressure is redefined as 130, not 140: US guidelines (Update)

November 14, 2017
High blood pressure was redefined Monday by the American Heart Association, which said the disease should be treated sooner, when it reaches 130/80 mm Hg, not the previous limit of 140/90.

Recommended for you

Chagas disease, caused by a parasite, has spread outside of Latin America and carries a high risk of heart disease

August 20, 2018
Chagas disease, caused by infection with a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi (T cruzi), causes chronic heart disease in about one third of those infected. Over the past 40 years, Chagas disease has spread to areas where it ...

Gout could increase heart disease risk

August 17, 2018
Having a type of inflammatory arthritis called gout may worsen heart-related outcomes for people being treated for coronary artery disease, according to new research.

Stroke patients treated at a teaching hospital are less likely to be readmitted

August 17, 2018
Stroke patients appear to receive better care at teaching hospitals with less of a chance of landing back in a hospital during the early stages of recovery, according to new research from The University of Texas Health Science ...

Cardiovascular disease related to type 2 diabetes can be reduced significantly

August 16, 2018
Properly composed treatment and refraining from cigarette consumption can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease resulting from type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the New England Journal of ...

Genomic autopsy can help solve unexplained cardiac death

August 15, 2018
Molecular autopsies can reveal genetic risk factors in young people who unexpectedly die, but proper interpretation of the results can be challenging, according to a recent study published in Circulation.

Neonatal pig hearts can heal from heart attack

August 15, 2018
While pigs still cannot fly, researchers have discovered that the hearts of newborn piglets do have one remarkable ability. They can almost completely heal themselves after experimental heart attacks.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JamesG
not rated yet Mar 07, 2018
Late to the party. The phones have been doing this for a while now.
tekram
not rated yet Mar 07, 2018
This is the first report of a cuff-less and calibration-free monitoring of systolic and diastolic BP via a smartphone.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.