Monitoring blood pressure can become as easy as clicking a selfie

Henrietta Strickland
August 9, 2019

Selfie videos that can capture blood flow beneath the skin on the face might someday help monitor patients' blood pressure, researchers wrote in a new study published this week in the American Heart Association journal "Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging".

The technology uses light to penetrate the skin and optical sensors in smartphones to create an image of blood flow patterns.

The models predicted blood pressure measurement within a bias (plus or minus standard deviation) of 0.39±7.30 mmHg for systolic blood pressure, -0.20±6.00 mm Hg for diastolic blood pressure, and 0.52±6.42 mmHg for pulse pressure.

Scientists say more research is needed to test this technology on people with high or low blood pressure.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that there are 1.5 million deaths every year due to high blood pressure in Southeast Asia. He was using transdermal optical imaging to try to develop a way of telling when kids were lying by correlating blood flow to areas of the face with fibbing. The alternative technology comes from a collaboration between Chinese and Canadian researchers, and the output is a technology termed transdermal optical imaging.

They found that, on average, transdermal optical imaging predicted systolic blood pressure with an accuracy of nearly 95 percent and diastolic blood pressure with pulse pressure with an accuracy of nearly 96 percent.

Dr Lee's study required people to take two-minute videos of themselves, but he hopes to be able to cut this down to 30 seconds without losing effectiveness.

The technology's high accuracy is within worldwide standards for devices used to measure blood pressure, according to Lee. The prediction of diastolic pressure (bottom number) was 96% accurate. The recordings made in the study were in a highly controlled environment. Even the samples that were taken for the trial lacked variety as none of the subjects had extreme skin tones.

"In order to improve our app to make it usable, particularly for people with hypertension, we need to collect a lot of data from them, which is very, very hard because a lot of them are already taking medicine", Lee said in a statement released by the University of Toronto.

"This study shows that facial video can contain some information about systolic blood pressure", said Ramakrishna Mukkamala, Ph.D., Circulation Imaging editorial author and professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Mukkamala said, however, that it's doubtful that facial video can yield specific information about blood pressure.

If it were to work, "a lot of technical challenges have to be overcome", he said. Also, different angles of the face.

A staggering 16million people in the UK - about one in three adults - have high blood pressure, according to the charity Blood Pressure UK.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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