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Wearable Tech – The Future of Cuffless Blood Pressure Monitoring
According to one estimation, 25% of men and 20% of women suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure in simpler terms. This puts them at an enhanced risk of stroke and heart attacks.
The problematic aspect of hypertension is the lack of early signs, which delays its diagnosis and treatment. While some people experience changes in their vision or headaches, these may or may not occur in people with high blood pressure. This calls for regular blood pressure monitoring, especially for people at a higher risk of hypertension.
The traditional way to monitor blood pressure involves using a BP cuff, known in medical terms as a ‘sphygmomanometer.’ It’s attached to a small device that has a screen and is worn on your upper arm. It tightens to restrict your blood flow, allowing pressure sensors to measure the strength of the blood’s push on your arteries as it pumps across the body, i.e., your blood pressure.
However, the technical nature of this procedure, combined with regular monitoring needs, calls for innovations in the process – and the answer might be a wearable tech.
The issues with blood pressure monitoring
For people with hypertension, readings should ideally be taken twice a day. However, a 2020 survey shows that 31 percent of US adults measure their blood pressure only once every month, with another 31 percent admitting to measuring it only once every year.
This could be partly because cuff blood pressure monitoring isn’t the most convenient or easy-going task to carry out regularly. In addition, it’s highly technical, and the slightest practical variances could cause inaccuracy in results. For instance, readings can’t be taken at night, cuffs could be difficult to wear, the equipment may not be reliable, and applying blood pressure cuff too tightly can cause blood pressure levels to be elevated due to discomfort.
This has motivated wearable tech manufacturers to fill that void, aiming for a simple tracking device that takes measurements throughout the day without you even knowing: no cuff, less stress, and more regular readings.
Aktiia – say hello to BP monitoring future!
Aktiia is 2021’s most exciting addition to the expanding space of blood pressure monitoring tech. It’s a cuffless device that’s wearable in a fitness-tracker style, and it’s already available for pre-order!
With a form factor slimmer than a fitness tracker, Aktiia features a subtle approach. It doesn’t even include a screen to maximize comfort, as it lessens the anxiety some people may experience as they continue to think about their BP.
Using a PPG sensor, Aktiia automatically takes readings in 90-minute intervals during the day and throughout the night. The results are transmitted to your phone, where you can check them whenever you wish to. A cuff is required for an initial set-up (included in the box) to ensure everything works properly.
The future looks promising for Aktiia and wearable cuffless blood pressure monitoring. It’s now officially received a medical device classification, which means it meets all the European health and safety standards.
The big question on cuffless blood pressure monitoring remains to be of accuracy and reliability. The answer requires more validation, data collection, and continued testing. Many different international organizations are in place to determine whether a certain device can accurately assess blood pressure.
Before wearable tech gets widely accepted as a reliable method of remote BP monitoring, those organizations would have to be satisfied with the claims of devices like Aktiia. This could happen soon, but only time will tell.