In a study from the University of South Australia and elsewhere, scientists found how to monitor blood pressure using a digital camera.
They used the same remote-health technology to monitor vital health signs from a distance and designed a non-contact system to accurately measure blood pressure.
It could replace the existing uncomfortable and cumbersome method of strapping an inflatable cuff to a patient’s arm or wrist.
In the study, the researchers describe the technique, which involves filming a person from a short distance for 10 seconds and extracting cardiac signals from two regions in the forehead, using artificial intelligence algorithms.
The systolic and diastolic readings were around 90% accurate, compared to the existing instrument (a digital sphygmomanometer) used to measure blood pressure, which is itself subject to errors.
Experiments were performed on 25 people with different skin tones and under changing light conditions, overcoming the limitations reported in previous studies.
The team says monitoring blood pressure is essential to detect and manage heart diseases, the leading cause of global mortality, responsible for almost 18 million deaths in 2019.
The health sector needs a system that can accurately measure blood pressure and assess cardiovascular risks when physical contact with patients is unsafe or difficult, such as during the recent COVID outbreak.
If researchers can perfect this technique, it will help manage one of the most serious health challenges facing the world today.
The cutting-edge technology has come a long way since 2017 when the team demonstrated image-processing algorithms that could extract a human’s heart rate from drone video.
In the past five years, researchers have developed algorithms to measure other vital signs, including breathing rates from 50 meters away, oxygen saturation, temperature, and jaundice in newborns.
Their non-contact technology was also deployed in the United States during the pandemic to monitor for signs of COVID-19 from a distance.
For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies about how to live long with high blood pressure, and results showing vitamin B could help treat drug-resistant high blood pressure.
The study was conducted by Professor Javaan Chahl et al and published in Inventions.
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