Mar 8, 2018 | By Benedict

A 3D printed smartphone case could be used to measure blood pressure. The device uses a button-like sensor that users can push with their finger, but some experts have warned that the device might not be accurate enough.

Having normal blood pressure is an important part of staying healthy. High blood pressure, which puts strain on your blood vessels, heart, and other organs, can cause heart attacks, heart disease, strokes, aneurysms, and many other dangerous conditions.

Low blood pressure isn’t great either: while not linked to such serious outcomes, it can cause unpleasant symptoms such as lightheadedness, sickness, confusion, and even fainting.

So how do you know if your blood pressure is normal? Most people worried about their blood pressure will visit their GP or even their chemist, with many places outside of hospitals able to give quick and accurate readings. Those unable to reach these places, however, may seek more independent solutions.

That’s why the promise of a 3D printed smartphone attachment that measures blood pressure sounds so appealing. A group of researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Maryland, and Chonnam National University has just put together such an attachment, publishing their research in Science: Translational Medicine.

The 3D printed device records blood pressure at the push of a button

(Images: Anand Chandrasekhar)

“As the user presses her/his finger against the smartphone, the external pressure of the underlying artery is steadily increased while the phone measures the applied pressure and resulting variable-amplitude blood volume oscillations,” the researchers explain. “A smartphone application provides visual feedback to guide the amount of pressure applied over time via the finger pressing and computes systolic and diastolic blood pressure from the measurements.”

But does it work? The researchers say their monitoring technology was tested against a more traditional cuff-based monitoring device, and found that the errors made by the two devices were comparable. Overall, the smartphone device was tested on 30 people, 90 percent of whom could use the device correctly after practicing one or two times.

Other experts, however, aren’t sure that there is enough evidence to advise using the 3D printed blood pressure device.

The smartphone device would be more accessible than traditional blood pressure monitors

Bruce Alpert, a pediatric cardiologist, said the device would have to be tested on at least 85 people who have a range of blood pressures before it could be considered usable, while others have suggested that a new measurement device would need to be much more accurate than cuff sensors, which do not have a great reputation for accuracy.

Three of the researchers have already patented the technology and licensed it to a company called Digitouch Health, meaning you could find yourself using a commercial version of the smartphone technology sooner rather than later.

The research paper, “Smartphone-based blood pressure monitoring via the oscillometric finger-pressing method,” can be found here.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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