Hypertension is a condition where the blood pressure of a person is persistently above normal levels of 120/80 mmHg. “Globally cardiovascular disease accounts for approximately 17 million deaths a year, nearly responsible for one-third of the total deaths. Of these, complications of hypertension account for 9.4 million deaths worldwide every year” [Source]. To tackle a problem as big as this, it requires technical assistance and finesse. In this age, where medical needs are usually ignored due to hectic schedules and stressful work cultures, a quick and responsive solution needs to be developed.
In the United States, around 95% of the cases of hypertension go without doctors pinpointing the underlying cause. Hypertension is one such illness which can keep us guessing about its origins. Essential hypertension is the technical term usually used to describe this condition where the cause is not known. Although statistics tell us the number of people afflicted by this disease, and also details of the research based on demographics, age, and ethnicity, what exactly leads to this condition is a huge grey area. Age and genetics do play a role, and so does gender; men are twice as likely than women to get hypertension by the time they reach 45. To understand what brings about hypertension, a new solution demands to be created; a solution based on IoT and machine learning.
Another very important factor that is responsible for heart illnesses is an unbalanced lifestyle. Irregular sleep routines and junk food habits can and do lead to complications in the cardiovascular system of the human body. Although doctors can judge that these lifestyle irregularities are responsible for hypertension, tracking the intricacies of a daily routine is cumbersome and time-taking. Also, the patient fails to describe the minute details of his or her routine. Nowadays, we have trackers and smartwatches that collect data of the body 24×7, but reading and organizing this data also requires machine-assisted algorithms to reach decisive conclusions. Initiatives are being taken in India to solve this problem in a better way i.e. fast diagnosis and response to diseases that may prove to be life-threatening in the future. Platforms like SiCureMi are building a common arena for doctors, health professionals, and patients, backed by IoT based wearables that monitor and spew body vitals around the clock. This data can be used to relate eating habits, sleep patterns, exercise routines etc, to illnesses and their causes.
The research team at SiCureMi has started an experimental study on 6 individuals whose blood pressure and heart rates are collected via IoT wearables for a fixed period of time, while these individuals perform normal activities, like running, sleeping, eating, etc. Subjects are allowed to rest for 15 to 30 minutes between these activities where the blood pressure is allowed to go back to its normal levels. With this data, relationship models are designed to correlate these daily activities to hypertension. This can help us in taking a step forward in understanding and learning what exactly causes hypertension, and more importantly, how to prevent it. The aforementioned study is taking its baby steps at present and aims to spread its study to more than 500 individuals and introduce more test cases in the picture.
One noteworthy portion of the aforementioned study is how researchers are aiming to create situations as close to the modern lifestyle as possible. Amongst the activities that the subjects are required to perform, researchers have introduced stress-inducing situations. The fact that the modern lifestyle is riddled with stress, looming deadlines, and workplace pressure, is not a strange fact. The SiCureMi research team placed the subject under artificially created stressful situations and the blood pressure and heart rates were collected as in the other cases. Cortisol test was used as an indicator of stress. To read more about the study, click here.
After the data is collected, researchers are able to search for meaningful patterns in the data set and understand the extent to which lifestyle practices affect the chances of hypertension, its intensity, as well as its results. Because the study is in its initial stages, a concrete conclusion is not possible at the moment. However, over time and by increasing the number of subjects under the light, trends and patterns in the data can be recognized which can help us understand precisely how hypertension is caused.
Hypertension is a great research field to delve into due to its negative effects on the health of a huge chunk of the population as well as the measly amount of study done in finding its root causes. A majority of the work done in finding the causes have resulted in dividing the issue more than in unifying it. As mentioned earlier, 90-95% cases of hypertension in the world fall under the tag of essential hypertension, a condition where the root is not known. A solution such as this is mandatory in these times and this fact cannot be more stressed upon. Modern lifestyle does not permit us to visit doctors as much as it is required. Also, our generation is more vulnerable to stress and pressure. By injecting automation in the process of symptoms-diagnosis-treatment, not only does one save time, but also money.