PhotoAs we have recently reported, cardiologists are increasingly concerned about a condition known as "masked hypertension."

That's when a patient shows a normal blood pressure reading the one or two times a year it is taken at the doctor's office but has above normal readings during much of his or her daily routine. Doctors have said regular blood pressure checks are one way to identify patients who unknowingly suffer from high blood pressure.

Back in May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued 510(k) clearance for a new medical device that might prove to be a useful tool in this effort. CareTaker Medical says its Wireless Continuous Non-Invasive “Beat-by-Beat” Blood Pressure (“cNIBP”) and Heart Rate Monitor can provide constant blood pressure monitoring.

The device uses a low-pressure finger cuff that is attached to a small device worn on the wrist. It measures the heart rate on a remote display. It was designed for use in hospitals and during patient transit, but the company says it can also be used after a patient is discharged.

A game changer

“CareTaker is a real game changer, allowing physicians to remotely monitor medical-grade Continuous Blood Pressure and Heart Rate from anywhere, using only a patient friendly-finger cuff” said Dr. Jay Sanders, an adjunct professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and President Emeritus of the American Telemedicine Association.

In the past, he says most doctors had to settle for intermittent blood pressure readings using arm cuffs, which he says which can produce misleading results.

"In remote monitoring settings, the ability to gather continuous blood pressure and vital sign data from such an integrated easy-to-use device will provide better information and improve patient compliance while reducing cost and workload,” Sanders said.

The company says its device provides "ICU quality" continuous readings without catheters or cumbersome wires that were typically part of previous continuous blood pressure reading devices. In an email to ConsumerAffairs, the company said the device is not a pulse transit time method, "but instead a completely new way of tracking blood pressure."

Researchers at Stony Brook and Columbia universities used 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitors to conclude that as many as 17.1 million people might suffer from masked hypertension.

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