What’s the future of blood pressure monitoring?

It’s a routine part of most doctor’s visits: a healthcare professional wraps a cuff around your upper arm and then inflates the cuff so it squeezes your arm. Within seconds, the cuff starts to deflate and numbers register on the device’s gauge—an upper number, which measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats (systolic pressure), and a lower number, which measures the pressure in your arteries between beats (diastolic pressure).

outstretched arm with blood pressure monitor

But what if you could measure your blood pressure at home, without the cuff—just by wearing a pair of customized “smart” sneakers, or by taking a two-minute video selfie?

High blood pressure, if left untreated, can increase one’s risk of severe complications, including heart attack and stroke. Patients with untreated white coat hypertension are twice as likely to die from heart disease than people with normal blood pressure, according to a recent study led by Jordana B. Cohen, an assistant professor in the division of Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension.

“If this innovation gets more people excited to check their blood pressure, I’m all for it. But the most important component is accuracy because if the readings aren’t accurate, the device isn’t providing any value,” Cohen says. “Inaccurate readings can lead to people falsely assuming they have normal blood pressure, or becoming anxious when they see false elevated levels. That’s why we encourage patients to use out-of-office monitoring devices that are validated.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.