A collaboration between nine different European research organizations, including the medical device giant Medtronic, has developed a prototype device for quick and easy measurement of arterial stiffness. This is an important development, as arterial stiffness is a biomarker for high blood pressure, but there are no reliable ways of measuring it without a cardiologist bearing special equipment.
The new device looks like a blow dryer, but it emits low powered laser beams that work with a specially designed silicon photonics chip to detect extremely slight movements of the skin above an artery. To use the device, the operator, who shouldn’t need much training, simply points it at one of the well known arteries that lays close to the skin and activates the device’s lasers to engage. The scanner then monitors the skin movement and translates that into a measurement of the aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV), from which the arterial stiffness can be elucidated.
The device should be fairly cheap to manufacture once it’s put into production, which should hopefully happen after a feasibility study is conducted. The first prototype has already been tested on 100 patients at the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris, France, including those with existing cardiovascular diseases. The device showed impressive correlation with existing methods of measuring arterial stiffness and the researchers believe that in the coming years a product will be available for use by general practicioners.