Is it time to ditch cuff-based blood pressure monitoring?

Approximately one third of the world population suffers from high blood pressure, or hypertension. Among these, many people do not even know that they may have high blood pressure. This is because the condition typically brings no uncomfortable symptoms so a number of people remain unaware of their condition.

The condition may only present symptoms in later stages with the result that most individuals do not recognize this disease progression which can lead to serious health issues like cardiovascular diseases and renal dysfunctions among others. Although regular blood pressure checkup is recommended and expected at clinics after a certain age, not everyone may find the time to go visit a doctor.

The other option is to monitor blood pressure at home which has largely been done with the use of cuff-based blood pressure monitoring devices.

Although traditional cuff-based blood pressure monitoring devices have been in use for a long time, not everyone feels comfortable or confident about using these devices. For one, they can be cumbersome and inconvenient. Plus, not everyone may be able to read the results accurately. And then there is the hardware itself which can be rather limiting.

Patients have also reported discrepancies monitoring blood pressure at home vs. at the clinic. For instance, 20% of patients register higher BP at a doctor’s clinic as compared to at home.

Past trends in cuff-less blood pressure monitoring have included a wrist watch BP monitor and a smartphone equipped PPG sensor. However, there may now be a new contender in the market which measures BP using a light senor. The device can offer an easy and convenient alternative to cuff-based options.

This cuff less BP monitoring device uses photoplethysmograpical biosignals (PTG) non-invasively by measuring pulse wave changes in the finger. Results of using the device repeatedly showed excellent and accurate outcomes and matched everything that their cuff-based counterpart had to offer. The device also meets industry guideline standards.

The study and results 

The results of a survey conducted on 172 subjects using the PTG device appear promising. While the device was definitely considered more “wearable” and flexible than traditional techniques, the measurements were recorded in a completely still body position. Also, the mean age of the participants was 47 years old and only about a third of the participants were hypertensive. As such, more work needs to be done with a strictly hpertensive population.

A sleep sub study of 35 subjects wearing the device demonstrated that these individuals experienced a noticeable improvement in sleep quality over wearing a cuff based device. Of these, a lot of participants felt more comfortable with a cuff-less device than they did wearing a cuff-based device.

Data obtained during the sleep period also revealed that subjects had significantly lower heart rates in the first hour after sleep when wearing the cuff-less device as compared to the cuff-based one.

While it is still too early to claim that people may be totally free from the cuff, the device is termed as cuff-less and not cuff-free. As a takeaway, the PTG device appears to be a simple, non-invasive and inexpensive diagnostic technique, yet it still presents some limitations that need to be cleared before it can be included in mainstream treatment options.

Source: Medscape

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