January 28, 2009 High blood pressure is a major health risk and as the world’s population ages, that risk continues to climb. It can be a trial of patience for doctors and for sufferers, whose blood pressure often has to be consistently monitored over a long time until it can be regulated. A new sensor being developed by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft researchers together with the “Hyper-IMS” (Intravascular Monitoring System for Hypertension Patients) company aims to make this monitoring easier. To monitor blood pressure patients have traditionally had to wear a small case containing a blood pressure meter close to their body. An inflatable sleeve on their arm records their blood pressure values, for which it is regularly pumped up and deflated. This can prove to be a bit of a hassle, particularly at night but now the whole process is now due to become significantly simpler thanks to a tiny implant that can achieve the same result.
With the new method a tiny pressure sensor, which has a diameter of about 1 millimeter is placed directly into the femoral artery in the groin and measures the patient’s blood pressure 30 times per second. The sensor is connected via a flexible micro-cable to a transponder unit, which is likewise implanted in the groin under the skin. This unit digitizes and encodes the data coming from the micro-sensor and transmits them to an external reading device that patients can wear like a cell phone on their belt. From there, the readings can be forwarded to a monitoring station and analyzed by the doctor. Because the researchers use special components in CMOS technology, the system requires little energy. The micro-implants can be supplied with electricity wirelessly via coils.
The researchers say implantable pressure sensors are also suitable for other applications, such as monitoring patients suffering from cardiac insufficiency. The first clinical trials are now underway.