This new technology provides high-precision blood pressure measurements that can be applied for medical use while removing the need to apply pressure to the arm above the systolic blood pressure, which is essential when taking conventional measurements. This is accomplished by analyzing the waveform of the subject's pulse and predicting blood flow changes. Moreover, in addition to reducing the size of the blood pressure cuffs (i.e., inflatable bag) used for blood pressure measurement, NEC has also integrated the mechanisms that are separate from the arm cuff, such as the pump and power supply, into a single unit.
Against the recent background of sharply rising medical costs associated with aging populations, it has become increasingly important to manage illnesses while at their mild stages in order to prevent an increase in severity. This is particularly true with hypertension (high blood pressure), where the number of people with uncontrolled hypertension rose from 600 million in 1980 to nearly 1 billion in 2008 (*2). If left untreated, hypertension can cause more serious conditions such as heart disease and cranial nerve disease, making its management at the mild stages important.
In addition, blood pressure data is utilized as an important indicator in the management and prevention of adult onset diseases and cerebral vascular disease (such as strokes and subarachnoid hemorrhage), some of the leading causes behind people requiring nursing care. As blood pressure can vary significantly throughout the day, such as in the early morning, daytime and while sleeping, as well as at other times, such as "white coat hypertension" (anxiety enhanced-blood pressure when consulting with a medical professional) and workplace hypertension, there has been a demand for the ability to take blood pressure measurements continuously throughout the day. However, since measurement techniques that apply strong pressure to the arm can impede daily life and sleep, and attaching equipment can be cumbersome, there is a need for more user-friendly equipment.
Working in conjunction with Professor Osamu Tochikubo of the Yokohama City University School of Medicine, NEC has developed a low-pressure blood pressure measurement technology that is able to take high-precision blood pressure measurements with a low application of pressure. This is done using a unique algorithm that estimates the change in blood flow with a pressure applied to the blood vessels that is weak enough not to block the flood of blood. This allows a blood pressure measurement device to be worn throughout the day in order to periodically record blood pressure measurements.
"With this technology, NEC has made it possible to obtain blood pressure data throughout the day, including work, recreation and sleeping hours, without placing a heavy burden on patients with constricting pressure and cumbersome devices," said Yuichi Nakamura, General Manager of Green Platform Research Laboratories, NEC Corporation.
(*1) Based on NEC research as of October 15, 2014.
(*2) Based on World Health Organization research.
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