Heart on the sleeve

MIT engineers have built a wearable blood pressure sensor that can provide continuous, 24-hour monitoring.


High blood-pressure is a common risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and aneurysms, so diagnosing and monitoring it is critically important.

However, getting reliable blood-pressure readings is not always easy.

Visits to the doctor’s office can provoke anxiety that distorts blood-pressure readings and, even when accurate, such visits provide only one-time snapshots of the patient’s condition.

To overcome these obstacles, MIT engineers have built a wearable blood-pressure sensor that can provide continuous, 24-hour monitoring.

The new monitor, which loops around the wrist and the index finger, is just as accurate as traditional cuff devices but much less cumbersome, allowing it to be worn for hours or days at a time.

‘The human body is so complex, but the cuff gives only snapshot data,’ said Harry Asada, an MIT mechanical engineer who led the development of the new monitor.

‘If you get signals all of the time you can see the trends and capture the physical condition quite well.’

MIT spin-out CardioSign is now working on commercialising the device and hopes to start clinical trials soon.

Asada said he believes a commercial version of the device could be available within five years, once it becomes easier to use, more reliable and cheaper to manufacture.

Harry Asada, an MIT mechanical engineer, led the development of the new blood-pressure monitor