Researchers have developed a new solar-powered device that will allow doctors to measure blood pressure and dispense critical medical aid in developing countries around the world. It will combat the increase in cardiovascular disease in poor and off-grid areas by providing affordable and reliable blood pressure testing. The new device, which is 94 percent compliant with the standard blood pressure testing method for systolic blood pressure, is not only solar-powered but has already been approved for field testing and is being utilized in Uganda and Zambia, Africa.
Photo © Andreas D
The solar-powered blood pressure device was recently profiled in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association. Speaking about the device, Eoin O’Brien, M.D., lead author of the study and professor at Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research at the University College Dublin in Belfield, Dublin, Ireland said, “The incidence of hypertension is rising dramatically in these countries. Hypertension leads to stroke and heart attack as the major cause of death around the world. It is greater than malnutrition, cancer and AIDS.”
He added that many low-income countries have a shortage of trained medical personnel and praised the new device saying, “We have been able to provide an accurate, robust and inexpensive device to diagnose high blood pressure. It’s a start. If we can’t measure blood pressure, we certainly can’t begin to treat hypertension.”
The creation of the solar-powered blood pressure measuring device came about after the World Health Organization asked multiple companies to devise a device that was not only accurate and easy to use, but also solar-powered. This device was found to meet all the criteria and it has been used in two centers in Uganda and one center in Zambia. Initial training reportedly took only 15 minutes before tests were made on 716 participants, using the new device and a standard one. When the test was repeated a month later, both patients and healthcare professionals said they preferred the new device.
“Solar energy eliminates the need for expensive rechargeable batteries in remote areas where electricity and the availability of batteries might be scarce, but sunlight is plentiful,” O’Brien said. “It can be run on batteries, but it can also be left in the sunlight to charge, making it ideal for rural areas and use out in the bush.”
Most importantly, the device is available at an accessible $32 (25 Euro) price point — this is because there is no need no need to buy and replace expensive batteries. Before the medical students among you rush out to buy one, the European Society of Hypertension did report that the device had less accuracy for diastolic blood pressure (the pressure when the heart relaxes) on a second testing and in the study. However, this is an error that should be easily corrected in the near future… it’s nothing to increase your heart rate over.
Via Science Daily