- While some apps claim to measure blood pressure using Photoplethysmography (PPG) or by placing a finger on the phone’s camera, their accuracy is still debated and can be influenced by various external factors.
- Not all smartphone blood pressure apps are regulated, leading to inconsistencies in readings and potential false assurances, prompting caution from major health organizations.
- The rapid evolution of technology holds potential for smartphones to offer accurate blood pressure readings in the future, but until then, relying on clinically validated devices is paramount.
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A couple of decades ago, if a friend said to you in a coffee shop that soon there would be phones that also took pictures and made videos, played songs, looked up information, provided directions, woke you up in the morning, controlled your tv, and made calls, you would have laughed so hard the coffee would have spilled out on to your shirt. Today, your friend (if you’re still friends with them) would be having the last laugh, because the smartphone in your pocket does all that and much much more. And if said friend now tells you that the newest versions may have the potential to also replace traditional health monitoring devices, do not laugh at them, especially if you just took a gulp of coffee. One such claim circulating the digital world is the ability to check blood pressure using just our smartphones. But how much of this is myth, and how much is reality? Let’s dissect this trending topic.
The Myth: Instant Blood Pressure Readings
The allure is undeniable. Imagine if you could replace the cumbersome cuff and monitor with a simple tap on your smartphone screen. Several apps on the market claim to measure blood pressure by placing a finger on the phone’s camera or using the light and camera to read blood flow. Sounds futuristic, right? But here’s what the science says.
The Reality: The Science Behind The Screen
Photoplethysmography (PPG): Some apps use PPG, a method that measures blood volume changes by shining a light (from your phone’s flashlight) onto the skin and detecting light reflection variations. While this method has potential, especially with advancements in remote PPG, it’s not yet foolproof for accurate blood pressure readings.
Finger Placement on Camera: Another approach is to place the finger on the camera. The premise is that the camera, combined with specific algorithms, detects blood flow changes. However, this method can be significantly affected by external factors like lighting and pressure exerted on the camera.
Concerns with Smartphone Blood Pressure Apps
Inconsistency: Many users report varied readings taken minutes apart, which can be concerning, especially for those who rely on accurate readings for health decisions.
Lack of Regulation: Not all apps undergo rigorous testing or receive approval from health authorities, meaning they might not meet medical standards.
False Assurance: An inaccurate low reading might give users a false sense of security, potentially leading them to overlook pressing health issues.
What Health Authorities Say
Prominent health organizations, including the American Heart Association and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, emphasize caution. They advocate for clinically validated methods of blood pressure measurement and caution against relying solely on unvalidated smartphone apps.
The Future: Is There Potential?
Absolutely. As technology continues to evolve, it’s plausible that we’ll soon have smartphone capabilities providing accurate blood pressure readings. With advancements in AI, sensor technology, and medical algorithms, the gap between myth and reality is bound to decrease. But until then, it’s crucial to rely on validated medical devices for crucial health metrics.
Conclusion: Trust but Verify
While it’s exciting to envision a future where our smartphones serve as all-in-one health monitoring devices, it’s essential to navigate this realm with caution. For now, consider smartphone blood pressure apps as supplementary tools. Always consult with healthcare professionals and use clinically approved devices for critical readings. As with all health matters, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
MarkiTech has various subsidiaries with products and services targeted towards digital healthcare, telehealth/telemedicine, and a virtual clinic with a laser focus on helping seniors age in place and help their caregivers.
Sensights.ai is a company focused on remote patient monitoring and aging solutions, which utilizes artificial intelligence to track patient’s health and keep a round-the-clock connection between caregivers and patients.
Veyetals also uses rPPG and AI modeling algorithms to measure vitals anytime, anywhere to capture the light reflected by the blood vessels under a patient’s skin.
Lastly, we have now launched our latest Mental Health AI Scribe tool called CliniScripts.com.