Medicine

New tech calculates blood pressure via a selfie video

New tech calculates blood pressure via a selfie video

Regular monitoring is important for patients with high blood pressure - medically known as hypertension - to help them keep the killer condition under control.

They found that the video prediction of systolic blood pressure (the upper number) was nearly 95% accurate. Utilizing machine learning algorithms, the group can then translate these measurements into blood pressure readings, readings they say are accurate about 95 % of the time.

Everyone who took part in the study had normal blood pressure, and there was a variety of skin tones, but the footage was all recorded in a controlled setting with fixed lighting and it is unclear how well the technology would now work in other environments, such as homes. Developmental psychologist and lead author of the paper Kang Lee told the Quartz that blood pressure readings can be measured through the light emitted by a phone camera.

'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'.

Lee and the researchers do not want this technology to replace the traditional "cuff" blood pressure measuring, but rather to make blood pressure easy to take at home.

Finding an accessible, easy way to monitor blood pressure is important given that almost half of American adults have high blood pressure and many don't even know they have it, according to the American Heart Association. 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.

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Researchers built a smartphone app that can check blood pressure by simply recording a short video of someone's face, then analyzing the blood flow under the skin. The prediction of diastolic pressure (bottom number) was 96% accurate. Lee and colleagues are also looking into reducing the needed video length from 2 minutes to 30 seconds, in order to make the technology more user-friendly.

"Smartphones are really smart", Lee said.

"There's no physics theory behind it", said Mukkamala, a cardiovascular researcher who wrote an accompanying editorial.

Dr Ramakrishna Mukkamala, from Michigan State University, added: 'If future studies could confirm this exciting result in [high blood pressure] patients and with video camera measurements made during daily life, then obtaining blood pressure information with a click of a camera may become reality'. "These include different skin shades, different room temperatures and different lighting".

For more on high blood pressure, head to the American Heart Association.


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