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A future Apple Watch band could double as an inflatable blood pressure cuff

Apple has applied for a patent (number 20210393152) for “inflatable cuffs with controllable extensibility.” It hints at future Apple Watch bands that could measure a user’s blood pressure.

About the patent filing

In the patent filing, Apple notes that elevated blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension) is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. As a result, blood pressure measurement is a routine task in many medical examinations. Timely detection of hypertension can help inhibit related cardiovascular damage via accomplishment of effective efforts in treating and/or controlling hypertension. 

To detect such hypertension patterns, it may be necessary to perform blood pressure measurements over time to obtain a more complete view of a person’s blood pressure characteristics. Although continuous measurement of blood pressure can be achieved by invasive means (such as an intra-arterial pressure sensing catheter) noninvasive blood pressure measurement approaches are more typically used. 

Current noninvasive blood pressure measurement approaches include ambulatory and home blood pressure measurement strategies. These strategies provide such a more complete view of a person’s blood pressure characteristics and are often employed in recommended situations. 

Home blood pressure measurements may be recommended where information is desired regarding the effectiveness of blood pressure lowering medication over one or more dose-to-dose intervals and/or where doubt exists as to the reliability of ambulatory blood pressure measurement. And Apple thinks an Apple Watch band that could measure blood pressure would be a convenient home blood pressure measurement system.

Summary of the patent filing

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent filing: “A blood pressure cuff includes a support band that is selectively reconfigured between a flexible standby configuration and a measurement configuration. A blood pressure cuff includes an inflatable bladder, a support band, and a control unit. The support band is attached to and surrounds the inflatable bladder. 

“The support band is reconfigurable, in response to an input from the control unit, from a standby configuration for between blood pressure measurements to a measurement configuration for constraining the inflatable bladder while the inflatable bladder is in an inflated state during a blood pressure measurement. The control unit includes a bladder pump for inflation of the inflatable bladder during a blood pressure measurement and controls the selective reconfiguration of the support band.”

Article provided with permission from AppleWorld.Today
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