Apps to Improve Hypertensive Care

As the warmer weather and sunny days allow people to be more active outdoors, many adults experience a renewed commitment to their health and well-being.  May is Hypertension Awareness Month and this preventable cause of premature death and disability is increasingly being detected earlier thanks to health apps on our smartphones.  If you’re unsure what to get Mom or Dad for their special days – a new smartphone pre-loaded with a heart-helper app might just extend their lives. 

As reported recently by Healthing, there are a number of ways in which a smartphone can catch the signs of heart disease.  Researchers have found a way to use a smartphone’s camera and flash to track blood pressure.  Riva Health’s app measures pulse waves when the user places their index finger on the camera of the phone – giving your doctor a good sense of how hard the heart is working.   This pulse wave reading may even offer a more accurate measure of blood pressure than a traditional cuff. 

According to BBC Future, scientists believe the smartphone will become a vital tool for monitoring health.  Already, researchers have found a way to detect blood clotting using a single drop of blood with a smartphone’s light-detecting and ranging sensors which are sensitive enough to pick up coagulation in blood placed on a glass slide.  Researchers have also developed algorithms that can detect changes in facial blood flow from selfies that can indicate changes in heart health.  Subtle shifts in the wrinkles, creases and fatty deposits on the cheeks, forehead and nose can indicate blood flow changes that could help identify a need for further heart disease risk evaluation. 

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the leading risk for death in Canada; six million Canadian adults have high blood pressure according to Heart & Stroke, but many are unaware they have the condition.  Of those who are diagnosed with hypertension, only about a quarter have the condition under control.  Reliable and frequent blood pressure monitoring would significantly increase the ability to properly control hypertension with appropriate medication and lifestyle changes including diet and physical activity.  Earlier detection would also lead to interventions to help prevent heart attacks, strokes and kidney problems. 

Remote monitoring apps are also a benefit for patients using telemedicine.  Technology provides patients with the tools to help take a more active role in their own healthcare management, even if they lack the mobility or transportation to travel frequently to in-person clinics.  With regular monitoring and early interventions, patients have fewer urgent trips to the emergency room and experience a better quality of life.   Check out the Medly chronic care management system to learn more.