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Pulse-Reading ‘Pen’ Offers New Way to Measure Blood Pressure

Hypertension trial uses novel device (May 28)

In a “world’s first” study, researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia are using a new pulse-reading technology to measure blood pressure to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD).

According to the investigators, the study’s findings may provide a new and refined target for blood pressure control to lower the risk of CVD.

Associate professor Jim Sharman, research leader, said that hypertension is one of the major risk factors for CVD, which is the cause of more deaths every year than any other disease.

“Maintaining good blood pressure control is seen as a key process in appropriate management of cardiovascular disease risk,” Sharman said.

“Preliminary studies have indicated that the standard inflated arm cuff, a crude method that is over 100 years old, may not necessarily be the best way to measure blood pressure on those who have hypertension,” he remarked. “In recent years, noninvasive techniques have been developed to give a more accurate estimate of blood pressure that the organs are exposed to, and central blood pressure.”

The new method measures central blood pressure from the arterial pulse at the wrist using a pen-like device that has a pressure transducer at the tip. The tip is placed lightly on the pulse at the wrist, and a mathematical formula is used to synthesize central blood pressure.

“The method is quick, reliable, and provides important information on blood pressure that is above and beyond that using the old upper arm cuff method,” Sharman said.

The novel pulse-reading technology is being used in a 2-year study involving hypertensive patients aged 18 to 70 years who are taking no more than three antihypertensive medications.

“We expect that evidence from this new trial will ultimately lead to a paradigm shift in the approach to treating patients with hypertension,” Sharman said. “That is, central blood pressure will be considered a more important therapeutic target than conventional blood pressure measured at the upper arm.”

Source: University of Queensland; May 28, 2013.

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