The standard blood pressure cuff may get an upgrade thanks to research that could lead to the development of continuous, cuffless and non-invasive wearable blood pressure monitors.
The standard blood pressure cuff may get an upgrade thanks to research that could lead to the development of continuous, cuffless and non-invasive wearable blood pressure monitors.

Could Wearable Technology Help Patients Monitor Blood Pressure?

A lab simulation model of an artificial artery demonstrates pulse wave velocity is a feasible measurement for monitoring blood pressure. Wearable patches show promise for measuring PWV, making them a potentially inexpensive blood-pressure monitoring option.
Nov. 1, 2018
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High Blood Pressure in the United States

  • Having high blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States.
  • About 75 million American adults (32 percent) have high blood pressure — that’s 1 in 3 adults.
  • About 1 in 3 American adults has prehypertension — blood pressure numbers higher than normal — but not yet in the high blood pressure range.
  • Only about half (54 percent) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control.
  • High blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for more than 410,000 Americans in 2014 — that’s more than 1,100 deaths each day.
  • High blood pressure costs the nation $48.6 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health-care services, medications to treat high blood pressure and missed days of work.

For more information about preventing heart disease and stroke, please visit the UA Sarver Heart Center’s prevention page.

(Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Marvin J. Slepian, M.D., leads a research lab in UA Sarver Heart Center that studies various forms and uses for wearable “patches” that have the ability to measure a range of variables, such as blood pressure.
Marvin J. Slepian, M.D., leads a research lab in UA Sarver Heart Center that studies various forms and uses for wearable “patches” that have the ability to measure a range of variables, such as blood pressure.

An easy, cost-effective way to monitor blood pressure could significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, as only half of the people diagnosed with high blood pressure in the United States  have their condition under control.

The study, “Relation between blood pressure and pulse wave velocity for human arteries,” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers demonstrated that pulse wave velocity, how quickly the impulse or force of blood moving away from the heart moves down the arteries, shows promise as a measurement to monitor blood pressure levels. Continuous, cuffless and non-invasive blood pressure monitoring, determined by measuring the pulse wave velocity, of PWV, is a promising technique for non-invasive measurements, the researchers wrote.

Marvin J. Slepian, M.D., a cardiologist at the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center, participated in the collaborative study with investigators Yonggang Huang and John Rogers, both of Northwestern University.

Until now, the co-authors wrote, the relationship between blood pressure and PWV was based on unrealistic assumptions that rely on observations rather than physical properties and have not been replicated in human arteries. They went on to describe an analytical model that yielded a measurable relationship between blood pressure and PWV. This model may be used in future work to develop continuous, cuffless and non-invasive blood pressure monitoring.

The research team used a “wet” physical simulation model capable of generating a pulse using the total artificial heart in the Slepian Lab at the UA Sarver Heart Center and measured pressures in artificial arteries designed for this research.

The Slepian Lab  has studied various forms and uses for wearable patches able to measure a range of parameters, such as movement and sweat. In addition to his work at the Sarver Heart Center, Slepian is associate department head of biomedical engineering in the UA College of Engineering and professor of materials science and engineering, medical imaging, and medicine, as well as director of the Arizona Center for Accelerated Biomedical Innovation at the UA.

“This new research provides insight into the measurements that will be useful in the design of new wearable patches, which then will provide a useful, inexpensive option for monitoring patients who need to track their blood pressure for a period of time,” Slepian said.

In addition to Slepian, the research team included Yinji Ma, Jungil Choi, Aurélie Hourlier-Fargette, Yeguang Xue, Ha Uk Chung, Jong Yoon Lee, Xiufeng Wang, Zhaoqian Xie, Daeshik Kang, Heling Wang, Seungyong Han, Seung-Kyun Kang, Yisak Kang, Xinge Yu, Milan S. Raj, Jeffrey B. Model, Xue Feng, Roozbeh Ghaffari, John A. Rogers and Yonggang Huang. The team acknowledges support from the National Basic Research Program of China, Grant No. 2015CB351900, National Natural Science Foundation of China Grant Nos. 11402135 11625207, 11320101001, and National Science Foundation Grant Nos. 1400169, 1534120 and 1635443.

A version of this article originally appeared on the UA Health Sciences website: https://opa.uahs.arizona.edu/newsroom/news/2018/could-wearable-technology-help-patients-monitor-blood-pressure

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