Many medical conditions necessitate regular, consistent blood pressure monitoring. That’s true for some people day-to-day, but it’s also a common need during surgery or when a patient is still in the ICU. Traditionally, that monitoring is done with bulky blood pressure cuffs. But, a new wearable patch created by researchers at the University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering may make those cuffs a thing of the past.
Those big blood pressure cuffs you’ve experienced at the doctor’s office are the standard because they’re able to monitor deep veins and arteries. For obvious protection reasons, your major veins and arteries are mostly positioned as far from the surface of your skin as they can be. That makes them difficult to monitor with sensors placed on the skin. This new wearable patch uses ultrasound to get around that limitation and “see” deep inside your body.
The benefit of this patch over a conventional cuff is that it’s small, lightweight, and unobtrusive. It can be left on the skin over a long period of time to provide constant monitoring. If it were mass produced, the patch would be inexpensive enough to be disposable. In addition to the convenience factors, it’s also more accurate. Blood pressure cuffs monitor your peripheral blood pressure, while this patch can be applied to the neck to measure your central blood pressure, which is preferable. It’s still early in the development process, and the researchers need to add a power source, processor, and wireless communication before it can move onto clinical trials. But, the concept is promising.