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Monday, April 20, 2009

Technology facilitates building a stronger database on blood pressure and other medical measurements

Some years ago my wife was diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension). This necessitated regular measurements with an instrument called a sphygmomanometer, which took me a long while to master for spelling and pronunciation. Being a chemical engineer helped – we used manometers to track barometric pressure. The hard part is the “sphygmo” – a Greek word meaning to throb or pulse. However, it works nicely for blood pressure!

Blood pressure measurements via the mercury gravity sphygmomanometer are still considered to be “gold standard.” Nevertheless, electronic devices are far easier to use and affordable for home use. To help my wife keep track of blood pressure, I bought one made by Panasonic. This came in handy when I developed heart problems of my own – chronicled in my article “How DOE Saved My Life and Made it Worth Living” in the June 2008, Stat-Teaser.

This week’s CRNtech brought news of a Digital Blood Pressure Check via an inexpensive (less than $100) device that connects via USB to a PC for capturing results. This data can then be uploaded to Microsoft’s HeathVault. From there you can enable care givers to watch for statistical trends.

My guess is that by repeated measurements over time, facilitated by this do-it-yourself system, medical professionals would get a far more precise assessment of hypertension. This may be the answer to Blood Pressure Variability: The Challenge of Variation – an issue recognized in this recent publication of the American Journal of Hypertension (2008, 21 3–4).

“It is therefore practically impossible for a clinician to know whether he is changing a drug or dose in response to chance variation in blood pressure or true changes in the underlying mean blood pressure.”
-- Tom P Marshall, Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, University of Birmingham


  • At 3:17 AM, Anonymous Call CareNet said…

    It is very important to stay on top of your health and have a check up at least once a year to ensure that you remain healthy. Many health problems are curable but you need to catch them in time.


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