Under pressure

Written by: Eureka! | Published:
It's a silly idea, but it might work. Call it the "Blood Pressure Challenge." Get a cup, a Dixie ...

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Hypertension – high blood pressure – is a killer. However, the good news is that it is relatively easily treated if identified early. This is something that is achieved by measuring it in a way with we are all familiar.

That method is probably older than you think. The first measurement of blood pressure was made in 1896 by squeezing the flesh around an artery. This method remains pretty much the most common way to measure blood pressure 124 years later, something that seems remarkably anachronistic in the digital age.

Of course, there are many ways of tracking changes in blood pressure and a plethora of wearable and non-wearable devices now on the market that do it. These devices are not cuff-less, however. They require the input of cuff-measured blood pressure and then monitor changes over the next few days. Then a new calibration is necessary using a cuff again. That doesn’t help the one billion plus people in the world at risk of dying from hypertension because they do not know they have it – once they have used a cuff to calibrate a device, they will know that they’re ill and don’t need the device. Other wearable devices are simply not medically accurate, which is even worse.

The challenge

What is needed, then, is a device that can quickly and accurately measure blood pressure in a home environment; is not cuff-based and does not require calibration from a formal test by a medical professional. Ideally, the device should be small enough and cheap enough to be built into every mobile phone.

The idea we have in mind will be revealed in the February 2020 issue of Eureka! Until then, see what you can come up with. Submit your ideas by leaving a comment on the Coffee Time Challenge section of the Eureka! website or by emailing the editor: paul.fanning@markallengroup.com

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Coffee Time Challenge is just a bit of fun, but it is based on a real engineering solution. If you send in your ideas by using the comment button below, we can add your solution as an alternative – perhaps something funny, practical, cheap or, of course, innovative.

It's a silly idea, but it might work. Call it the "Blood Pressure Challenge." Get a cup, a Dixie Cup (partner with Dixie, or another company. Just make sure everyone uses the same cup!). Place it on top of a vein in the wrist. Add drops of water one at a time from an eyedropper. See how many drops it takes before the cup stops bouncing every time your heart beats. A lot of drops means it takes a lot of pressure. A few drops means it takes a little bit. Whatcha think?
Grace M. Lo Porto

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