Monitoring blood pressure can become as easy as clicking a selfie

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Developing an easy at-home blood pressure screen could potentially save lives.

Digital sensors in smartphones can map out blood flow patterns because light penetrates the outer layer of our skin - and so-called "transdermal optical imaging models" can then be used to turn that data into blood pressure predictions, according to an American Heart Association news release on the findings. "To manage and prevent it, regular monitoring of one's blood pressure is essential".

They found that the video prediction of systolic blood pressure (the upper number) was nearly 95% accurate.

Lee is research chair of developmental neuroscience at the University of Toronto.

Researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada and the Affiliated Hospital of Hangzhou Normal University in China posted a proof of concept on August 6 on how a patient's blood pressure can be detected by simply capturing a short video using a smartphone app.

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The experts, who are now looking to reduce the length of the necessary video from two minutes to 30 seconds, say that if follow-up studies can confirm these results, obtaining blood pressure information with the click of a camera will be a non-contact, noninvasive method to use anytime, anywhere. "Once you know how blood concentration changes in different parts of your face, then we can learn a lot of things about your physiology, such as your heart rate, your stress and your blood pressure", said Lee.

"High blood pressure is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease - a leading cause of death and disability". This time, measuring the blood pressure comes easy as posting a selfie on social media. Through this method, specially designed technology processes imperceptible facial blood flow changes taken from videos captured using a smartphone camera (where red light is reflected from hemoglobin located from under the skin). 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. The prediction of diastolic pressure (the bottom number) was almost 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. Lee said of the results.

They added that, if tests of the "exciting" technique continue to be successful, "obtaining blood pressure information with a click of a camera may become reality".

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

"This study shows that facial video can contain some information about systolic blood pressure", said Indian-origin researcher Ramakrishna Mukkamala, Professor at the Michigan State University.

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