Travelling with hypertension

Soon, the traditional way of measuring blood pressure using a cuff around the upper arm (which has been used for over 100 years) could become obsolete, according to this article. This is due to the invention of a ‘wrist watch’ capable of much more accurate readings.

The device works by calculating pressure in the aorta, the largest artery in the body, which is known to give a different (more accurate) reading from pressure in the arm. By taking a much more accurate reading, doctors can work out appropriate treatment based on the risks from high blood pressure.

The device has been designed by scientists at the University of Leicester and in Singapore. A sensor in the watch sits over the artery in the wrist and records the pulse wave, which is then fed into a computer to calculate the pressure close to the heart.

The Department of Health is funding the work and the technology is expected to be in use soon in specialist centres, before being available more generally in the NHS in about 5 years.

So what are the benefits? Because the wrist watch measures pressure in the aorta we get a more accurate reading. This is because the aorta is millimetres away from the heart and close to the brain, and the pressure here is a bit lower than in the arm. For example, some patients have high pressure in the arm but their aortic pressure is completely normal and these patients may not need to be treated/need different treatment. A study on the device is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Ok, but regardless of how your blood pressure might be measured in the future, another study has found that studying might be good for your blood pressure. It is kind of like when we say to children, “eat your vegetables, they are good for you”. We all know that vegetables are good for you, and we often tell children that studying is good for you too. But this study provides a tangible health based reason why this is the case (although mainly for women).

Scientists found a correlation between years spent in education and lower lifetime blood pressure. The trend emerged from data on nearly 4,000 men and women taking part in a major US health study spanning 30 years.

Researchers compared men and women who had completed less than 12 or more than 17 years of education. They found that more educated women had readings 3.26 mmHg (measurement for blood pressure) lower, on average, over the 30-year timespan.

So, hope you have enjoyed reading these interesting developments in both the measurement of blood pressure and the reasons for high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, and would like to find out more, particularly about travelling with high blood pressure, you can check out this blog category.