Smartphone attachment offers easy blood-pressure screening

  • A new smartphone attachment could help screen your blood pressure
  • UC San Diego researchers focused on affordability while developing it
  • It's not clear when the device would be available to the general public

Dr. Edward Wang with his smartphone attachment that can measure someone’s blood pressure. Photo courtesy of Edward Wang.

(NewsNation) — Checking your blood pressure — which is a frequent necessity for people with conditions such as hypertension — can be an unwieldy task that requires equipment or expertise that is out of reach for some people.

But researchers at UC San Diego have developed a smartphone attachment that could provide a cheap and easy way to check your blood pressure anywhere you are.

The attachment consists of a clip that a user places over your smartphone’s camera and flashlight. An app tells the user how hard and how long to press in order to take the reading.

“The main motivation for us to develop (the) product is really to bring down the cost of blood-pressure monitoring,” explained Yinan “Tom” Xuan, a Ph.D. candidate at UC San Diego who helped develop the clip and who co-authored a study about it.

What the blood pressure screening attachment and app look like. (Photo courtesy of Edward Wang)

Compared to traditional blood-pressure monitoring technology, the attachment is relatively affordable. The researchers estimated that to produce a batch of 1,000, each clip would cost around 80 cents to manufacture. By contrast, blood-pressure cuffs and monitors that you can purchase for home use can easily retail for more than $20 for the most basic units.

Xuan said that the attachment is not as accurate as a blood-pressure check your doctor might do.

“It’s not intended for diagnostic accuracy, but rather intended for screening,” he said.

He explained that their vision is to be able to send out thousands of these devices to communities lacking proper screening. The app can then flag users who have high blood-pressure readings and tell them to seek a physician for a more thorough diagnosis.

But it may take some time before these devices make it out to the public. The researchers are currently working to refine the technology, get approval from medical authorities and eventually market it to get it out to the world.


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