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Blood Pressure Monitoring Apps: Are they reliable?

Mobile applications for utilities have made our lives fast and easier, let alone the recreation they bring is exciting for the user. In healthcare system, major goal of technology is to replace time- consuming conventional methods with quick and innovative solutions.

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Blood Pressure Monitoring Apps: Are they reliable?

By

Mishal Shaheen

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Blood Pressure Monitoring

Mobile applications for utilities have made our lives fast and easier, let alone the recreation they bring is exciting for the user. In the healthcare system, a major goal of technology is to replace time- consuming conventional methods with quick and innovative solutions. Blood Pressure monitoring apps are an emerging example.

The question arising is:

The question arising is: Are we illogically biased towards acquiring more time and ease that we unintentionally putting aside the need for gaining accuracy, and henceforth, the validity of the results? Let’s see how this example works. BP monitoring app is not a new idea, rather an advanced form, or a clever approach you might say, of a much accurate invention of checking BP by finger pressure waveform, invented in the 1980s, that used an inflatable finger cuff with a built-in photoelectric plethysmograph. Now, to consider that technology, we can say it was foolproof enough given the mechanics and principles behind it.

As we move into the app age

As we move into the app age, we have a keen sense of improvising discoveries and inventions into a convenient and a finger away prototype. These apps ‘work’ by placing your index finger on the flashlight lens of your mobile phone or inducing a steady pressure on your mobile’s home button for a certain amount of time. Result? Your diastolic and systolic blood pressure will pop up on the screen. As insane as it seems, similar apps will also claim to show your blood glucose levels at the same time, which is another debate. Basic principles of physics will show that blood pressure is monitored by using the difference in atmosphere and body pressure. These apps claim to work by using the pressure of your finger as the tool to measure that difference. Recently, it has also been discovered that an artery named transverse palmar arch artery of your finger can be used as a potential site to measure BP readings. Given these facts, it is quite optimistic to think that this case can work.

How do these principles apply to a broad range of smartphones?

The only question that comes into my mind now is, how do these principles apply to a broad range of smartphones? Every phone has a difference in their sensory qualities, software and optical lens with modifications. Scientists say we need a thin-filmed force sensor placed on optical sensors. None of the phones we use in our daily lives has it, so the irony of these apps leads to objection.
National Institute of Health conducted a study, according to which 77.5% of individuals with hypertensive BP levels were falsely reassured that their BP lies in the normal non-hypertensive range. This misleading can be disastrous given its potential to act as a false alarm to many patients suffering from hypertension. This technology needs to be worked upon as it is in its nascent stages, but to rely on it, for now, is risky.

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