New Device Improves Blood Pressure Measurement

February 21, 2011

A new blood pressure measurement device should improve the way patients' blood pressure is measured.

A new blood pressure (BP) measurement device should improve the way patients’ blood pressure is measured. The new tool, developed by scientists at the University of Leicester and in Singapore, has the potential to enable doctors to treat their patients more effectively because it gives a more accurate reading than the current method used.

It does this by measuring the pressure close to the heart — the central aortic systolic pressure (CASP), according to a news release from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.

BP is currently measured in the arm because it is convenient; however, this may not always accurately reflect what the pressure is in the larger arteries close to the heart.

The new technology uses a sensor on the wrist to record the pulse wave and then, using computerized mathematical modeling of the pulse wave, scientists are able to accurately read the pressure close to the heart. Patients who have tested the new device found it easier and more comfortable, as it can be worn like a watch.

Being able to measure blood pressure in the aorta, which is closer to the heart and brain, is important because this is where high blood pressure can cause damage. In addition, the pressure in the aorta can be quite different from that traditionally measured in the arm.

The new technology will hopefully lead to better identification of those who will most likely benefit from treatment by identifying those who have a high central aortic systolic pressure value. This will be especially important for younger people in whom the pressure measured in the arm can sometimes be quite exaggerated compared to the pressure in the aorta.

A key question is whether measurement of central aortic pressure will become routine in clinical practice. “It is not going to replace what we do overnight, but it is a big advance. Further work will define whether such measurements are preferred for everybody or whether there is a more defined role in selective cases to better decide who needs treatment and who doesn’t and whether the treatment is working optimally,” said Bryan Williams, MD, of the University of Leicester’s Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at Glenfield Hospital. “The beauty of all of this is that it is difficult to argue against the proposition that the pressure near to your heart and brain is likely to be more relevant to your risk of stroke and heart disease than the pressure in your arm,” Dr. Williams added.

The university’s close collaboration with the Singapore-based medical device company HealthSTATS International led to the development of the new technique.

“This study has resulted in a very significant translational impact worldwide as it will empower doctors and their patients to monitor their central aortic systolic pressure easily, even in their homes and modify the course of treatment for BP-related ailments,” said Choon Meng Ting, MD, the chairman and CEO of HealthSTATS. “Pharmaceutical companies can also use CASP devices for clinical trials and drug therapy. All these will ultimately bring about more cost savings for patients, reduce the incidences of stroke and heart attacks, and save more lives.”