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Study: Blood pressure apps could be inaccurate

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Posted at 10:39 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 00:06:23-04

A recent study from Johns Hopkins University found that a top-selling blood pressure app is inaccurate and could put people suffering from high blood pressure at risk.

"It doesn't take much to get an app approved on the market," said Dr. Timothy Plante.

Plante and his Johns Hopkins colleagues found that one app in particular really missed the mark. It's called Instant Blood Pressure. It was one of the top selling apps in 2014 and 2015. The app claims that by placing a cell phone on your chest with a figure over the built-in camera lens, it can read your blood pressure.

"That's a remarkable thing to claim and if it works will revolutionize medicine," Plante said.

The problem is, it rarely worked.

"Blood pressure is known as a silent killer," Plante said. "It is silent for years and years. It can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney disease and blindness."

A study using 85 volunteers found highly inaccurate measurements. The app missed high blood pressure in 8-of-10 patients.

"We found instant blood pressure was on average 12 millimeters of mercury off on the top number and about 10 millimeters of mercury off for the bottom numbers," Plante said. "It got a D across the board."

Instant Blood Pressure was available to purchase up until this past summer, but some people may still have it downloaded on their phone. 

Johns Hopkins researchers say there are several consumer grade blood pressure cuffs that can be used at home, just make sure the one you choose is certified as "accurate by the Association for Advacement of Medical Instrumentation."

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