Solar-Powered BP Device May Be Useful in Low-Income Areas

Researchers compare solar device with mercury sphygmomanometers in African sites

TUESDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- A blood pressure measuring device that can run on solar power may be helpful in improving treatment of hypertension in low-income settings, according to research published online Nov. 8 in Hypertension.

Gianfranco Parati, M.D., of the University of Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy, and colleagues analyzed data from 700 participants (average age, 35 years) in Uganda and Zambia who underwent repeated measurements with a mercury sphygmomanometer and the Omron HEM-SOLAR device.

The researchers found that average blood pressures were 120.5/74.6 mm Hg and 122.3/71.2 mm Hg with the respective devices. Between-device agreement in defining participants' systolic blood pressure was 93.7 percent. According to the researchers, both patients and investigators favored the solar-powered device over mercury sphygmomanometers, with health workers pointing to ease of use and most patients rating it highly for comfort.

"The availability of a user-friendly, accurate, and inexpensive device for measuring blood pressure, which does not require observers to be trained in the auscultatory technique, will allow non-physician health workers (who are the backbone of the primary health care system in rural Africa) to participate in the diagnosis and management of hypertension," the authors conclude. "It is anticipated that the Omron HEM-SOLAR will help to improve diagnosis and management of hypertension in low- and middle-income countries, and that by achieving better blood pressure control, the global burden of hypertension-related cardiovascular disease will be reduced."

Omron provided some funding for the study, as did Microlife and A&D.

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