Transdermal Optical Imaging Measures Blood Pressure in Smartphone-Captured Facial Videos

It's unclear whether the technology can accurately measure blood pressure in less controlled environments including homes

It's unclear whether the technology can accurately measure blood pressure in less controlled environments including homes

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

TUESDAY, Aug. 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) - Taking your blood pressure may become as easy as taking a video selfie if a new smartphone app proves itself.

According to Lee, the technology uses light to penetrate into the skin and optical sensors in smartphones create an image of the blood flow patterns.

"We want to use this technology to help us to make people aware of their blood pressure and monitor it", he said.

As of the moment, there are 1.3 billion people with high blood pressure all over the world.

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 alternative technology comes from a collaboration between Chinese and Canadian researchers, and the output is a technology termed transdermal optical imaging.

The average prediction biases were 0.52 mm Hg for pulse pressure, 0.39 mm Hg for systolic BP, and -0.20 mm Hg for diastolic BP, the investigators found.

Dr Lee's study required people to take two-minute videos of themselves, but he hopes to be able to cut this down to 30 seconds without losing effectiveness. The prediction of diastolic pressure (bottom number) was 96% accurate. For one, the recordings made in the study were in highly controlled environments.

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

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.

They also need to test the technology on people with high and low blood pressure and a variety of skin tones.

But one specialist is skeptical that this system could ever be widely used.

"From the video captured by the technology, you can see how the blood flows in different parts of the face and through this ebb and flow of blood in the face, you can get a lot of information", said Kang Lee, the lead author of the study and a professor in applied psychology and human development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, in a press statement.

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.

If it were to work, "a lot of technical challenges have to be overcome", he said.

Nearly half of Americans suffer from high blood pressure, some unwittingly, the heart health organization said - meaning the innovation could make a big impact.

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