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Research Highlights

Smartphone clip attachment may help some people self-monitor blood pressure

NIA-funded researchers have developed a low-cost, universal attachment that some people may be able to use with a smartphone to measure blood pressure from their fingertips. News of the device was published in Scientific Reports.

Hand holds blood pressure device, pulse from finger of other hand is being measured
Prototype of the BPClip, courtesy of the Digital Health Lab/University of California, San Diego.

University of California, San Diego researchers developed “BPClip” for at-home access to blood pressure monitoring, especially for people who find it difficult to access health care services. A plastic clip attaches to a smartphone camera and is used with a custom smartphone application to measure blood pressure from the pulse at the user’s fingertip as the finger presses into the clip. Other cuffless devices require calibration using blood pressure cuffs. BPClip does not — it uses instead a similar method to cuff-based monitors, measuring changes to the volume of blood that pulses as pressure is applied to an artery.

To test the measurement capability of BPClip, the researchers compared blood pressure measurements recorded by a standard arm cuff device to those recorded by BPClip. The 24 participants in this feasibility study, ranging in age from 18 to 56 years (age 30 on average), had blood pressure levels that ranged from low to high. Results using BPClip were comparable to those taken by a blood pressure cuff. Four additional participants were not included in the analysis, however, because they did not have enough blood circulation in their fingers to capture a strong pulse, even after using a hand warmer.

This early study demonstrates the potential of smartphone-based blood pressure devices, which could help improve the accessibility of long-term blood pressure monitoring. However, more research that includes a representative sample of intended users is needed before the BPClip is ready for large-scale production. Future studies should explore ways that those with poor circulation could use this system. A wide range of finger conditions, such as those that are callused, and fingers of many shapes and sizes, should also be included to determine how the accuracy of the device might be affected. Additionally, older adults may have trouble steadily pressing the clip and applying varied pressure. Next steps for BPClip include ensuring user-friendliness and accuracy across different skin tones.

This research was supported in part by NIA grant P30AG073107.

Reference: Xuan Y, et al. Ultra-low-cost mechanical smartphone attachment for no-calibration blood pressure measurement. Scientific Reports. 2023;13(1):8105. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-34431-1.

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