What is a Blood pressure cuff called?
Eclampsia is a major cause of death in the developing world. Put in a layperson's terms, pre-eclampsia is a disease of pregnancy with somewhat unclear etiology. Untreated, it can lead to eclampsia or extremely high blood pressure that results in seizures and eventually shock and death. We have posted magnesium sulfate which is a compound used to treat eclampsia and save a mother's life. However, we will be covering a series of early stage devices that can help to predict and diagnose pre-eclampsia.
Some in-depth research led us to Andy Shennan in the UK. Dr. Shennan is an obstetrician with a long-term interest in pre-eclampsia and he is also Director of Maternity Worldwide and researcher at the Maternal & Fetal Research Unit, King's College, London. As it turns out, he and his team are actually developing a very low-cost blood pressure monitoring device suitable for very low-resource settings. They've tested (and validated) the device in Ethiopia and Tanzania and are currently determining how to translate accurate readings on the device into actionable decisions in diagnosing and treating pre-eclampsia.
Like so many of the devices featured, the technology in this blood pressure cuff, called Microlife, actually comes from experiments in space. The Microlife device uses oscillometry rather than Doppler. Dr. Shennan notes that beyond the requirements of low-resource settings, a fundamental problem with pre-eclampsia detection is that Doppler is not effective due to changes in haemodynamics in women suffering from pre-eclampsia. What he's saying is that even if you actually had a high-tech doppler in a low-reource setting, you still would not be accurately detecting pre-eclampsia. The low-cost, solar-powered device being developed runs with a manual pump and needs simply a battery. The team has funding from the EU and will be testing this incredibly exciting device in 5 countries. Stay tuned for more information, photos and results of clinical testing.