Earlier this year, we heard how scientists from the University of California San Diego had developed a flexible ultrasound patch that allows users to see the inner structure of irregular-shaped objects. Well, now they’ve made one that measures a patient’s blood pressure from deep within the body.
When you get your blood pressure taken with an arm cuff, what’s being measured is known as peripheral blood pressure. This is different than central blood pressure, which is the pressure within the central blood vessels that deliver blood straight from the heart to other major organs. Not only is central blood pressure more accurate than peripheral, but it’s also said to be a better indicator of impending heart disease.
Unfortunately though, the standard method of measuring central blood pressure involves inserting a catheter into a blood vessel in the neck, groin or arm and then guiding it to the heart.
There’s also a non-invasive method in which a tonometer probe is held against the skin above a major blood vessel, although readings can be affected by the steadiness and angle at which the device is held, along with the amount of pressure that the user applies to the patient’s skin. Additionally, patients must remain very still throughout the procedure.