Challenging a gold standard – is it time to throw out 100 years of blood pressure monitoring?

Date: 02/05/2018

Challenging a gold standard – is it time to throw out 100 years of blood pressure monitoring?

A research partnership between Cabrini Health and Monash University is developing a reliable alternative to standard blood pressure monitoring in 100 years. Dr Keith Joe, Cabrini Consultant Emergency Physician and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University, releasing the clinical trial results during Heart Week (April 29-May 5), says a new piece of wearable digital technology that tracks blood pressure (BP) is “a sort of ‘Fitbit for the heart’.

Dr Joe is the Chief Clinical Investigator working with a team at Monash University including Associate Professor Mehmet Yuce from the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, and PhD students Fatima Heydari and Melika Pour Ebrahim.

Dr Joe says the first clinical trial of the digital chest patch for monitoring blood pressure achieved a 90 percent success rate in individuals, and 70 per cent in the general population.

“We’re challenging a hundred years of medical practice where we still use an inflatable arm cuff to measure blood pressure. It’s just not good enough when digital and wearable technologies can give us so much better information, and in real time.

“We still have some way to go, but we are doing this to develop a medical grade device which meets international standards, so it will take time,” he says. “Our efforts have been boosted by these first results from a clinical trial of 50 people, men and women randomly selected and with a range of heart health.

“There is already a range of wearable digital monitors in the market but measuring BP digitally is the holy grail, and we’re still relying on the inflatable cuff which for many people isn’t reliable. The results can be skewed by something as simple as the wrong size cuff. So, our wearable is not about fashion or exercise, it’s about getting a reliable result which can transform the way we care for heart patients.

“In a nutshell we measure BP through the chest by using bioimpedence – that’s electric current through tissue. Every time our heart beats we can measure tiny changes in tissue resistance in the chest produced by a change in blood volume produced by the body’s main blood vessel, the aorta.”

Dr Joe says the wearable will enable doctors to track patients at home engaging in normal activities, and see how their blood pressure, their medication and their activities interact. In hospital, coupled with other vitals being measured, monitoring will improve dramatically, shifting from the current once every few hours to every few minutes or seconds.

“This means we will pick up very early if a patient’s condition is deteriorating and be able to move quickly to intervene,” he says. “This will save lives.”

Contact: Jackie Meiers Cabrini PR Manager 0419 009 146