One of Apple's next moves in health care could be this blood pressure instrument

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Continuing Apple's push into the health space, the company has done some research on a low-profile blood pressure measurement system compatible with technologies like the iPhone and Apple Watch.

Apple blood pressure cuff patent


Apple on Thursday was granted a patent for what appears to be a blood pressure-measuring device that connects to existing Apple devices.

"The system includes an expandable member or structure that has a multi-compartment structure and/or is mounted on a rigid surface or structure," reads the patent, issued from the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office. "The system is incorporated into a portable multi-function device, or is configured to communicate with a portable multi-function device."

Photos attached imply that the "portable multi-function device" referenced is the Apple Watch.

Good health

The product, should it come to fruition, would be Apple's first full-on medical device, and subject to US Food and Drug Administration oversight, which it has been reluctant to do. However, Apple has gotten much more ambitious about health-related software applications in recent years.

The patent application, titled "Cuff Designs and Methods" is credited to six Apple employees, with it filed in June 2016.

Apple launched HealthKit in 2004, and has continued to expand its functionality since. Earlier this year, Apple signed up 12 major U.S. health care providers to support Health Records in iOS, an effort to digitize health records and easily help providers share data while treating patients; that number has since expanded to 39. Earlier this week, Apple opened its Health Records API to developers.

Apple and blood pressure

Apple had filed a separate patent in October of 2017, for "intelligent blood pressure monitoring," but the new patent is different in at least one respect -- it does not contain the word "intelligent."

A third-party, HealthKit-compatible blood-pressure monitor, QardioArm by Qardio, is available in Apple's retail stores. And last November, a study found that the Apple Watch can be used to detect such conditions as sleep apnea and hypertension.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,933member
    Is this actually the right date? "Apple launched HealthKit in 2004" 

    Glanced through patent and it only references one previous patent. The patent looks like it describes a mini, inflatable device like the normal blood pressure cuff applied to the upper arm. This would be a very interesting device if they could get it to work properly with just the installed battery. 
    edited June 7 watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 9
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,731member
    rob53 said:
    Is this actually the right date? "Apple launched HealthKit in 2004" 

    Glanced through patent and it only references one previous patent. The patent looks like it describes a mini, inflatable device like the normal blood pressure cuff applied to the upper arm. This would be a very interesting device if they could get it to work properly with just the installed battery. 
    As you mention when you read the patent it mostly involves inflating a cuff with an air pump and reading an electronic pressure sensor. It is just a smaller version of what is currently in use in clinics today. It wouldn't likely be a passive device that would continually monitor blood pressure but probably a user initiated event. I still think to get an accurate reading the device would need to be quite bulky. Even so, there is a reason that the current BP cuffs are used on the bicep. The sounds of the systolic and diastolic blood pressure can be easily heard because the artery is large. The small arteries in the wrist are going have much fainter sounds and could be susceptible to background interference thus compromising the accuracy. Furthermore reading blood pressure during physical activity is problematic and I would suggest even more so with a wrist worn device - you would need to be at rest.

    Since the obsolescence of old style mercury column devices, which was the gold standard, today various manufacturers use different algorithms to process the electronic sensor readings so there is some variance from device to device. They may need to get FDA approval but I would assume the disclaimers will be quite lengthy.

    On the other hand it may just be one of those defensive patents that Apple has no intension of actually manufacturing.
  • Reply 3 of 9
    FolioFolio Posts: 393member
    The main advantage I can see in putting this into Watch is that continuous monitoring could help change one's current behavior (like if it spikes stop watching national news. ;-) Not sure of the need, or how the market compares with glucose monitoring, etc. But pretty sure Apple knows.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 9
    Who cares how this works, or even if it does.  The important issue is Apple's continued foray into health monitoring.  As that OVERALL effort produces more genuine benefits the Apple Watch will become a necessity, not a luxury, and sales will go through the roof.
    mike1lkrupprob53watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 9
    berndogberndog Posts: 64member
    volcan said:
    rob53 said:
    Is this actually the right date? "Apple launched HealthKit in 2004" 

    Glanced through patent and it only references one previous patent. The patent looks like it describes a mini, inflatable device like the normal blood pressure cuff applied to the upper arm. This would be a very interesting device if they could get it to work properly with just the installed battery. 
    As you mention when you read the patent it mostly involves inflating a cuff with an air pump and reading an electronic pressure sensor. It is just a smaller version of what is currently in use in clinics today. It wouldn't likely be a passive device that would continually monitor blood pressure but probably a user initiated event. I still think to get an accurate reading the device would need to be quite bulky. Even so, there is a reason that the current BP cuffs are used on the bicep. The sounds of the systolic and diastolic blood pressure can be easily heard because the artery is large. The small arteries in the wrist are going have much fainter sounds and could be susceptible to background interference thus compromising the accuracy. Furthermore reading blood pressure during physical activity is problematic and I would suggest even more so with a wrist worn device - you would need to be at rest.

    Since the obsolescence of old style mercury column devices, which was the gold standard, today various manufacturers use different algorithms to process the electronic sensor readings so there is some variance from device to device. They may need to get FDA approval but I would assume the disclaimers will be quite lengthy.

    On the other hand it may just be one of those defensive patents that Apple has no intension of actually manufacturing.
    The gold standard contrary to popular belief has been the human ear listening to various sound producing devices. At the risk of upsetting a number of healthcare professionals, even cheap modern wrist sphygmomanometers are superior to the human ear and the brains they use to interpret incoming data.
    While the automatic electronic cuffs do tend to read higher than mercury varieties thay are consistent in their interpretations over time. Humans are only as consistent as their intake of caffeine, loud music, etc.
    if Apple goes forward with this one can be sure that they will exceed most current blood pressure monitoring devices by a significant margin.
    Apple Watch is already capable of identifying when it’s wearer is at rest and I am confident it could coach and train wearers how to position themselves for an accurate measurement. 
  • Reply 6 of 9
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,082member
    berndog said:
    volcan said:
    rob53 said:
    Is this actually the right date? "Apple launched HealthKit in 2004" 

    Glanced through patent and it only references one previous patent. The patent looks like it describes a mini, inflatable device like the normal blood pressure cuff applied to the upper arm. This would be a very interesting device if they could get it to work properly with just the installed battery. 
    As you mention when you read the patent it mostly involves inflating a cuff with an air pump and reading an electronic pressure sensor. It is just a smaller version of what is currently in use in clinics today. It wouldn't likely be a passive device that would continually monitor blood pressure but probably a user initiated event. I still think to get an accurate reading the device would need to be quite bulky. Even so, there is a reason that the current BP cuffs are used on the bicep. The sounds of the systolic and diastolic blood pressure can be easily heard because the artery is large. The small arteries in the wrist are going have much fainter sounds and could be susceptible to background interference thus compromising the accuracy. Furthermore reading blood pressure during physical activity is problematic and I would suggest even more so with a wrist worn device - you would need to be at rest.

    Since the obsolescence of old style mercury column devices, which was the gold standard, today various manufacturers use different algorithms to process the electronic sensor readings so there is some variance from device to device. They may need to get FDA approval but I would assume the disclaimers will be quite lengthy.

    On the other hand it may just be one of those defensive patents that Apple has no intension of actually manufacturing.
    The gold standard contrary to popular belief has been the human ear listening to various sound producing devices. At the risk of upsetting a number of healthcare professionals, even cheap modern wrist sphygmomanometers are superior to the human ear and the brains they use to interpret incoming data.
    While the automatic electronic cuffs do tend to read higher than mercury varieties thay are consistent in their interpretations over time. Humans are only as consistent as their intake of caffeine, loud music, etc.
    if Apple goes forward with this one can be sure that they will exceed most current blood pressure monitoring devices by a significant margin.
    Apple Watch is already capable of identifying when it’s wearer is at rest and I am confident it could coach and train wearers how to position themselves for an accurate measurement. 
    LOL.... "cheap modern wrist sphygmomanometers are superior"?  Really?   Says who?

    Granted, medical grade electronic arm cuffs may be more consistent.  But that doesn't make them more accurate.  Mostly they just offer two advantages:
    1)  Efficiency.   They're less work to use.
    2)  They can be used to record BP over time -- such taking reading every 10 minutes -- particularly during home monitoring which provides advantages not available in a doctor's office.  But that advantage is due to the setting, not the method of measurement.

    But, in a medical setting, a cardiologist, will always prefer using his stethoscope & sphygmomanometer if there is any question. 

    Further, I have found the "cheap modern wrist" cuff to both highly inaccurate as well as highly inconsistent.  At the current state of technology I won't use one.  Period. 

    pslice
  • Reply 7 of 9
    pslicepslice Posts: 65member
    Totally agree with GeorgeBMac. As a responding EMT to a retirement community, where a lot of folks use WalMart wrist BP machines, I find these items are invariably wrong. I don’t trust the automatic cuffs. I used the cuff and my stethoscope. I’m thinking Apple is barking up the wrong tree with this. They want to make their watch part of health studies, they need to stay clear if BP. My 2 cents worth as an EMS provider.
    [Deleted User]asstupin
  • Reply 8 of 9
    asstupinasstupin Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
      Apple is only at the very beginning of a long journey in the field of medical diagnostics. In my opinion, in the next 10-15-20 years a kind of revolution in the field of personal medical diagnostics will happen, when with the help of perfect sensors, self-learning neural networks it will be possible to identify cancer and heart diseases at the earliest stages in the home. 
      A device for measuring pressure, when it is required to wear a cuff, then it seems to me that the air is becoming obsolete and its place in the museum. In the 21st century, an apparatus based on other principles of measuring pressure-without cuffs and air pumping-should be developed. It should measure the pressure with the highest accuracy, CONSTANTLY, with the output of information in digital form on the smartphone-computer and, importantly, in conjunction with the non-invasive blood sensor (+ still sensors?) And the neural network, put a preliminary analysis of the cause of the increased (lowered) pressure and give advice on treatment. Something like this...
  • Reply 9 of 9
    berndog said:
    volcan said:
    rob53 said:
    Is this actually the right date? "Apple launched HealthKit in 2004" 

    Glanced through patent and it only references one previous patent. The patent looks like it describes a mini, inflatable device like the normal blood pressure cuff applied to the upper arm. This would be a very interesting device if they could get it to work properly with just the installed battery. 
    As you mention when you read the patent it mostly involves inflating a cuff with an air pump and reading an electronic pressure sensor. It is just a smaller version of what is currently in use in clinics today. It wouldn't likely be a passive device that would continually monitor blood pressure but probably a user initiated event. I still think to get an accurate reading the device would need to be quite bulky. Even so, there is a reason that the current BP cuffs are used on the bicep. The sounds of the systolic and diastolic blood pressure can be easily heard because the artery is large. The small arteries in the wrist are going have much fainter sounds and could be susceptible to background interference thus compromising the accuracy. Furthermore reading blood pressure during physical activity is problematic and I would suggest even more so with a wrist worn device - you would need to be at rest.

    Since the obsolescence of old style mercury column devices, which was the gold standard, today various manufacturers use different algorithms to process the electronic sensor readings so there is some variance from device to device. They may need to get FDA approval but I would assume the disclaimers will be quite lengthy.

    On the other hand it may just be one of those defensive patents that Apple has no intension of actually manufacturing.
    The gold standard contrary to popular belief has been the human ear listening to various sound producing devices. At the risk of upsetting a number of healthcare professionals, even cheap modern wrist sphygmomanometers are superior to the human ear and the brains they use to interpret incoming data.
    While the automatic electronic cuffs do tend to read higher than mercury varieties thay are consistent in their interpretations over time. Humans are only as consistent as their intake of caffeine, loud music, etc.
    if Apple goes forward with this one can be sure that they will exceed most current blood pressure monitoring devices by a significant margin.
    Apple Watch is already capable of identifying when it’s wearer is at rest and I am confident it could coach and train wearers how to position themselves for an accurate measurement. 
    As a physician who has taken multiple blood pressure readings today for my patients the 'old-fashioned' way (ie with a stethascope/sphygmomanometer), and who's on my 3rd cup of coffee, I tend to agree with you. The only reason I still use it is just to keep my skills up, but in reality most blood pressure readings are done with an automatic cuff, in hospitals and in outpatient clinics. Cardiologists tend to use audio-enhancing stethascopes in combination with a sphygmomanometer, but that's a limited use case.

    The wrist cuffs can be erratic in their readings and require calibration. If Apple can find a way to reduce the frequency of calibration required then this could potentially be a very useful product.
    edited June 12
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