Technology 3 min read

New Technique Uses Video Selfies to Monitor Blood Pressure

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Imagine a future where we can monitor blood pressure by merely taking video selfies. Based on a recent paper published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, the future is nearer than you might imagine.

High blood pressure is a significant contributor to cardiovascular diseases. According to the Center for Diseases Control (CDC) in the United States, about 75 million adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure – that’s one in every three adults.

Meanwhile, only about 54 percent of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control. That’s because regular monitoring is essential to prevent or manage a blood pressure number that’s higher than average.

Although the current cuff-based blood pressure measuring devices are accurate, they can be inconvenient and uncomfortable. As such, it becomes necessary to create a technique that not only monitors blood pressure but is easily accessible at the same time.

That’s where the transdermal optical imaging comes in. It’s an imaging technique that measures blood pressure by detecting changes in the blood flow.

Now, here’s the best part. The imaging method can work with the facial videos captured with your smartphone camera.

Here’s how it works.

Using Transdermal Optical Imaging to Monitor Blood Pressure

When ambient light penetrates the outer layer of the skin, the digital optical sensors in smartphones pick up the blood flow patterns. Using this information, the transdermal optical imaging model can predict the blood pressure.

In a test, the researchers captured two-minute videos of about 1,328 Canadian and Chinese adults volunteers using an iPhone equipped with transdermal optical imaging software. Then, they measured their blood flow, including the systolic, diastolic, and pulse pressure measurement.

Using the data they collected, the system learned how to accurately determine pulse and blood pressure form facial blood flow patterns. It predicted systolic pressure with almost 95 percent accuracy. On the other hand, it predicted diastolic blood pressure, including pulse pressure, with about 96 percent accuracy.

According to lead author Kang Lee, Ph.D., a professor and the research chair in developmental neuroscience at the University of Toronto in Canada, the accuracy is within international standards for blood pressure monitoring devices.

In a statement, Lee said:

“If future studies confirm our results and show this method can be used to measure blood pressures that are clinically high or low, we will have the option of a contactless and non-invasive method to monitor blood pressures conveniently—perhaps anytime and anywhere—for health management purposes.”

The transdermal optical imaging technique is still not perfect. Since the researchers videoed the participant’s faces in a well-controlled environment with great lighting, it’s unclear whether the technology will provide accurate result in a less controlled surrounding.

Also, the researchers admitted that the two minutes video length might be too much. To make the technique user-friendly, Lee and his colleagues intend to cut the time down to 30 seconds.

Read More: Wearable Carbon Nanotubes Generate Electricity from Blood Flow

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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