Study looks at using smartphone videos to measure blood pressure

Henrietta Brewer
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".

Dr Lee said the early tests have shown the technology is accurate enough to comply with worldwide standards for a blood pressure measuring device.

Filming a selfie video may soon not just be a route to Instagram likes and TikTok shares, it could also check your blood pressure. They found that on average, transdermal optical imaging predicted systolic blood pressure with almost 95% accuracy and diastolic blood pressure with pulse pressure at almost 96% accuracy. As of the moment, there are 1.3 billion people with high blood pressure all over the world.

A new technology called transdermal optical imaging gives a picture of the blood flow in your face, which reveals your blood pressure, researchers say.

The said group of researchers has been laboring to find a way to track a patient's blood pressure using one of the most common functions that a smartphone does, the selfie. "Cuff-based blood pressure measuring devices, while highly accurate, are inconvenient and uncomfortable".

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.

'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'.

The discovery was a result of an accident, Lee was trying to use transdermal optic imaging to develop a way of telling when kids are lying by correlating blood flow to areas of the face with fibbing.

The researchers hope to make the system work with normal home lighting and to shorten the time needed for the recording to 30 seconds.

Although privacy concerns would have to be addressed, "such rich information in facial video may render this video camera approach to be more promising for BP measurement than a contact measurement of the finger [photo-plethysmography] waveform", Mukkamala stated.

"This study shows that facial video can contain some information about systolic blood pressure", Ramakrishna Mukkamala, a Michigan State University professor and Circulation Imaging editorial author, said in a statement.

If it were to work, "a lot of technical challenges have to be overcome", he said. "And those aren't easy problems".

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

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