Keeping track of blood pressure using your phone

Keeping track of blood pressure using your phone

Hold up your smartphone, smile for the camera and let the video roll. Besides capturing one of your life’s great moments, you might also be able to monitor your blood pressure someday by taking a selfie.

Scientists at the University of Toronto using smartphones equipped with transdermal optical imaging have determined a person’s blood pressure with more than 95% accuracy.

Experts see this as a major advancement in blood pressure management over the traditional cuff-based method, which can be inconvenient and uncomfortable.

Transdermal optical imaging, or TOI, measures blood pressure by detecting imperceptible blood flow changes in facial videos. Ambient light penetrates the skin’s outer layer allowing digital optical sensors in smartphones to visualize blood flow patterns. TOI-equipped cellphones can use this information to register blood pressure.

The researchers evaluated more than 1,000 adults in Canada and China with normal blood pressure. They took two-minute videos of the participants and used these data to teach the technology how to accurately determine blood pressure and pulse from facial blood flow patterns. They compared the phones’ readings with blood pressure numbers using cuff-based measurements and found them to be within the international standards for accuracy.

The team noted they recorded the videos in a controlled environment with fixed lighting, so results might be different outside or in homes. Plus, while the participants had a variety of skin colors, they didn’t have extremely dark or light tones.

But the results indicate a whole new avenue for making blood pressure monitoring as easy as saying “Cheese!’’

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