A blood pressure measuring app sounds impressive since mobile devices have increasingly developed. However, a recent study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore has released that the results read by the app are highly inaccurate.
Since its first launch on App Store in June 2014, a so-called best selling blood pressure mobile app named Instant Blood Pressure has received roughly 150,000 downloads. As the app developers said, the app could read your blood pressure if you place your smartphone on your left chest and place your index finger on the phone’s camera.
However, as the report of the lead researcher, Dr. Timothy Plante, the app missed high blood pressure readings in 4 out of 5 participants tested. The team found out that nearly 80 percent of participants with clinically high blood pressure, defined as 140/90, received normal blood pressure readings when using the app.
“If someone with high blood pressure is using Instant Blood Pressure to follow their blood pressure at home, more times than not it’s going to tell them they’re fine,” said Dr. Plante.
The results of the study based on the test on 85 adult volunteers in Johns Hopkins clinics. They checked their blood pressure twice with the app after receiving the typical standard inflatable blood pressure cuff. The researchers then compared the average result from the two readings to the reading from the traditional blood pressure cuff.
More specifically, the app, on average, was 12 points off for systolic, the top number in a blood pressure reading, and 10 points off for diastolic, the bottom number. Systolic represents pressure when the heart is beating, and Diastolic represents the pressure between beats.
As Dr. Clyde Yancy, American Heart Association past president and Chief of Cardiology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, commented on these results found by the researchers, they are “not good enough”. “We understand that when we’re measuring blood pressure, the numbers do matter, and we can’t be off by plus or minus 5 or plus or minus 7,” he added.
Based on the results of the study, it is apparently implied that the app incorrectly read blood pressure of the users. This could significantly lead to a wide array of other serious health problems including heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage because the condition, also known as the silent killer, may be left untreated.
A warning across the top of the Instant Blood Pressure website says: “Do not rely on Instant Blood Pressure for medical advice or diagnosis. It is not a replacement or substitute for a cuff or other blood pressure monitor.”
The website further states that Instant Blood Pressure is “for recreational use only.”
The app was withdrawn in July 2015 for unexplained reasons, but several other apps with similar functions are still available on both App Store and Google Play.