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Here’s How Biosensing Software Is Helping People Measure Heart Health

The American Heart Association reports that nearly half of adult Americans — 48.1% or 119.9 million have high blood pressure/hypertension. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) says 1.28 billion adults aged 30–79 have high blood pressure. WHO reports that this is more than 30% of the adult population. Less than half of adults with hypertension are diagnosed and treated and only 21% have it under control.

Hypertension can lead to heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

Blood pressure cuffs are the traditional method of checking blood pressure. Blood pressure apps on smartphones traditionally use different data points, like finger pulse, to estimate blood pressure. These apps can help consumers track their blood pressure over time but not measure it.

A Swiss start-up, Biospectal, has released a new smartphone blood pressure app, OptiBP. The app uses biosensing software to measure optical information from blood flow beneath the skin.

According to Eliott Jones, CEO and co-founder of Biospectal, OptiBP calculates blood pressure via the fingertip on a smartphone camera.

“After calibration with a cuff, the user can use the phone itself to measure blood pressure wherever and whenever they need to,” said Jones. “This is way more convenient than lugging a cuff around!”

Beyond the cuff

Biosensing

The global market size for disposable blood pressure cuffs was estimated at around $269 million in 2022 and will reach $851 million by 2032. The high prevalence of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases drives the market.

However, Biospectral is a software app that Jones says can scale this new form of blood pressure management in an unmatched way by other hardware-related blood pressure devices.

“From the user’s perspective, not having yet another device to manage/charge/wear is a big improvement in user experience,” said Jones. “Plus, the app on the phone can share information with family and doctors to help our ultimate goal to improve and support doctors in achieving better clinical outcomes.”

The OptiBP app is currently available on Android in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and France and is compliant with the European Union CE MDR regulations for medical device certification. However, the app is only available in the US for testing and clinical investigation, and distribution is anticipated in 2025.

Jones says that for their CE mark certification, the OptiBP app received clinically accurate levels respecting an adapted version of ISO 81060-3 standard for blood pressure cuffs to our new optical technology.

“While a little less accurate right now than the traditional cuff, our algorithm is a living animal and will only benefit from the continuing capture of and training with data and algorithms love data,” said Jones. “The continuous glucose monitoring world has seen similar widespread acceptance as a more accessible and continuously improving solution as a valuable tool for helping others manage Diabetes.”

Jones says they use the phone camera, which makes a “movie” of blood flow through the fingertip, instead of the fingerprint login function.

“OptiBP includes instructions when users record to ensure good finger positioning. And the recording screen provides real-time feedback to the user to help them learn how OptiBP works,” said Jones. “Another great thing about being software-based is that we can continuously update the software’s user interaction and assistance elements.”

Jones says this allows them to capture user feedback and statistical information that they can use to update the app in a user-centric and responsive way.

Quantified self 2.0

“We are focused on creating the best health outcomes related to blood pressure for the short and long term,” said Jones. “Chronic diseases like hypertension build over time and lead to severe health issues and life-shortening events.”

Jones says that, with that issue in mind, the company wants to empower patients to become more knowledgeable about their disease and to coordinate better with the people—relatives, doctors, or both—supporting them in their health management.

“OptiBP definitely falls into the quantified self category because it helps users capture a critical vital sign much better than a traditional cuff,” said Jones. “However, OptiBP aims to create a better dialogue and partnership with their doctors and better adherence due to more frequent measurements.”

“OptiBP’s goal of engaging the user in their health management is aimed at helping to make treatment more about the whole patient,” he added. “This leads to more personalized, precise and predictive care.”

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