Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of mortality, accounting for 31% of deaths globally (1). One of the biggest risk factors for CVD is hypertension, sometimes called the silent killer as it often remains undiagnosed. Identifying and treating hypertension is a key goal for clinicians, public health experts and policymakers.
How prevalent is hypertension in India? In recent times, two large studies have measured the blood pressure (BP) of participants to estimate the prevalence of hypertension. In a study of 779,649 participants conducted in 2015-16, the overall prevalence was reported to be 11.3% (2). In another study of 180,335 participants, the prevalence was 30.7% (3). What was striking in the second study was that only 15.9% reported being hypertensive, which means that about half the population was unaware of the condition.
HealthCubed is a medical devices company that has built a suite of smart screening devices that can measure biochemical and physiological parameters. We also provide testing services in health camps, corporate offices and community health centers. Since June 2020, we have been providing COVID-19 risk screening services to a variety of workplaces. One of the parameters that we measure is BP. The populations we screen tend to be young, mostly below the age of 40. Yet, we observe levels of blood pressure that are often above the threshold of 130/90 mm Hg. Further, the majority are unaware of their baseline blood pressure. For example, of a population of 3358 individuals that we screened in July-August 2020, 804 individuals had systolic blood pressure readings above 130 mm Hg. 92.3% of these individuals were learning of a potential hypertensive condition for the first time.
Why do people not know if they are hypertensive? One reason is that people do not perceive symptoms and therefore, do not get tested. Others do not have access to blood pressure monitors or are unable to visit their doctor. This led us to ask what we can offer to people to alleviate the problem of testing. Our most recent offering is AgeWell, a device that can be used at home for measuring blood pressure and other vitals, such as pulse oximetry, temperature, ECG, heart rate and respiratory rate. Paired with an easy-to-use application on the phone, the device makes it easy to measure oneself. All readings are saved on the app and can be shared with a relative or a doctor.
Clinical studies have shown that self-monitoring can enhance the management of hypertension. In a randomized, parallel-group study of 269 patients with hypertension, participants that measured their BP at home had a lower systolic and diastolic BP than participants that did not do so (4). Combining self-measurement with monitoring by physicians is likely to benefit individuals even more than simply monitoring BP. In fact, the American Heart Association suggests that data obtained from home BP monitoring may help physicians decide the appropriate treatment for their patients (5). AgeWell is designed based on such real-world data and guidance from experts. The device helps people test themselves as many times as needed from the comfort of their homes; doctors can access the data and engage with the patient via telemedicine. Thus, the AgeWell ecosystem addresses the problem of hypertension comprehensively.
Let hypertension not be a silent intruder in your life.
To learn more about AgeWell, please visit: https://agewell.healthcubed.com/
- WHO | Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/
- American Heart Association. Monitoring Your Blood Pressure at Home. American Heart Association: Dallas, TX, 2018.
Dr. Radha Rangarajan
Chief Scientific Officer – HealthCube