When I went to the emergency room with my face swollen like a balloon and my handwritten notes of a week’s worth of steadily rising blood-pressure readings, the nurse rolled her eyes.
“Those things never work reliably,” she said of the Walgreens’ blood pressure machine.
It worked well enough, as I was already into severe preeclampsia and my baby was delivered soon after, arriving two months early and weighing 3 pounds.
Still, I could have used the Purdue University app and wearable technology, now under development.
What is preeclampsia?
The app will be able to tell pregnant women whether they have, or will one day develop preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication caused by high blood pressure that can cause organ damage and premature birth, according to researchers.
How it works
With their smart phone and a Purdue University developed app, women will be able to test themselves at home with a blood-pressure cuff given to them by their health-care provider.
The devices will work together to measure a woman’s blood pleasure while laying on her back and on her side.
“We know from decades of research that if there’s a big change from their side to their back, in the weeks and months to come, they could develop complications,” said research leader Craig Goergen, an assistant professor at Purdue University’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in an interview with All the Moms.
The most bold claim among the researchers is the ability of the app to predict the likelihood a pregnant woman will develop preeclampsia.
The test assesses blood flow through the kidney, and 90 percent of women with a positive test eventually develop preeclampsia, according to the researchers.
Women can then send the result to their doctor’s office for review and possible life-saving treatment for baby and mother.
Who it’s for
The hope is that the app will reduce the number of premature babies born each year, Goergen said.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave researchers $100,000 toward the development of the technology in November. Part of the new technology will go toward improving the lives of mothers and infants in Africa, a mission of the Gates Foundation.
Here in the states, women in rural and under-served areas of Indianapolis will begin testing the device as third stage clinical trials within the next two months, Goergen said.
For women everywhere
Purdue researchers are looking for companies with technological expertise to further develop its app and complete its third phase of clinical trials.
They are envisioning a future where women everywhere have access to a low-cost app and blood-pressure cuff.
Let’s hope their app is for real so fewer pregnant women are surprised by a preeclampsia diagnosis and spend agonizing months in an NICU hoping tiny babies put on pounds and grow healthy enough to come home.
“We hope that this device is one day available to all pregnant women, regardless of where they are located,” Goergen said. “I do not know how far away that is, but once appropriate regulatory approvals are obtained, we plan to market this broadly.”
Until then, there are always Walgreens blood pressure machines, which have proved reliable enough.
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