New blood pressure app developed by Michigan State University

Michigan State University has invented a blood pressure app that can give accurate readings using an iPhone - without requiring any special equipment. | Credit: Michigan State University
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Researchers from the Michigan State University have developed a proof-of-concept blood pressure app that can provide its users with accurate readings- only by using an iPhone – and nothing else.

The research was published recently in the journal Scientific Reports. The app was made by a team of scientists who were led by Ramakrishna Mukkamala, electrical and computer engineering professor at Michigan State.

“By leveraging optical and force sensors already in smartphones for taking ‘selfies’ and employing ‘peek and pop,’ we’ve invented a practical tool to keep tabs on blood pressure,” said Mukkamala. “Such ubiquitous blood pressure monitoring may improve hypertension awareness and control rates, and thereby help reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and mortality.”

Mukkamala’s team had, previously too- in a publication in Science Translational Medicine– proposed the concept of the invention of an app – and the related hardware- that could accurately check the user’s blood pressure. Now, with the combination of a smartphone and add-on optical and force sensors, the team has developed a device that could easily measure up to arm-cuff readings, which is currently the standard in most medical settings.

The team, though, notes that with the current trend of advances in smartphones, the add-on optical and force sensors may no longer be necessary. Peek and pop, is available to users who want to open functions and apps with only simple push of their finger. It is now standard on many iPhones and included in some Android models.

Mukkamala is hopeful that if things keep moving along at the current pace, they would be able to make the app available by late 2019,

“Like our original device, the application still needs to be validated in a standard regulatory test,” he added. “But because no additional hardware is needed, we believe that the app could reach society faster.”

Mukkamala also commented that internationally, this app could be a game changer in the healthcare industry. Although one can treat hypertension by making healthy lifestyle choices and with medication, but data shows that only about 20 percent of people with hypertension have their blood pressure under control. The app will become a convenient  option for patients and help them keep a log of daily measurements that would produce an accurate average.

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