Technology in Understanding Blood Pressure by Age

Blood pressure by age; Studying how the two parameters are linked and how digital technology and the internet can help relieve some grief that abnormal blood pressure causes.

Blood pressure is one of the most important indicators of human health. It serves as a vital tool in health care as well as in alerting the patient that it’s time to visit the doctor. Abnormal blood pressure is a clear cut sign of other issues that is bothering the healthy balance of the human body. With age, the normal blood pressure standards also change. The topic ‘blood pressure by age’ can be opened with this apt excerpt from a study;

“Data obtained during the Framingham Heart Study, which followed patients for 30 years, agreed that systolic blood pressure (SBP) shows a continuous increase between the ages of 30 and 84 years or over. Diastolic blood pressure (DBP), however, has a varying pattern with ageing, increasing until the fifth decade and slowly decreasing from the age of 60 to at least 84 years of age. This leads to a steep rise in pulse pressure (PP) with ageing.” [Source]

The Framingham Heart Study began in the 1950s and rightly predicted that lifestyle and environment have effects on the heart. The study also confirmed that age plays a huge role in average blood pressure standards. These ‘blood pressure by age’ patterns observed are largely due to the physical changes in the blood carrying channels or the arteries in the body. With age, the arteries restrict and become less flexible. In other words, the heart makes more effort to pump the same amount of blood, than the heart of younger individual.

blood pressure monitor

With these facts under light, it is quite understandable that it demands constant monitoring of blood pressure in the aging section of the population to safeguard them from impending diseases and illnesses. Not implementing technological devices to solve this problem would be an act of complete ignorance; after all, the purpose of technology is to relieve human burden.

Blood pressure by age: A quick glance at the stats

Age, gender, and height, are all decisive parameters in calculating the normal blood pressure rates. What is considered for example a low systolic for a particular age-sex group might be normal for another. Similarly, a high diastolic might be normal for another. Due to different somatic traits in different groups of individuals, normal standards differ.

blood pressure by age

The chart above [Source] shows blood pressure by age and sex. (Measurement taken on stethoscope and a manual sphygmomanometer)

For example, the table value for say, ‘50 year old man’ or for ‘50 year old woman’, the normal standards differ. However, these stats are revised from time to time. With more research, these correlations might change.

IoT and Data Science in calculating blood pressure by age

As mentioned above, these average values of blood pressure by age may change with more research. New studies may reveal new variables that may change the way we look at certain things when it comes to blood pressure and its related health issues.

“Blood pressure guidelines are not updated at regular intervals. Instead, they are changed when sufficient new evidence suggests the old ones weren’t accurate or relevant anymore,” says Dr. Paul Conlin, an endocrinologist with Harvard-affiliated VA Boston Healthcare System and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. [Source]

The higher the number of data points, the higher is the accuracy of the conclusions derived from it. Experts predict that by the year 2020, the number of IoT wearables in the market will reach an astounding 82.5 million. IoT wearables measure heartbeat rates, pulse rate, calories intake etc and collect this data for further processing. These wearables are adding more and more functionalities every day. It is obvious that IoT wearables are one of the hot products in the market. Blood pressure calculators implementing IoT capabilities and functionalities are the next big thing to hit the stalls; IoT wearables that calculate blood pressure are just round the corner. Giants like Omron and Asus already have market-ready products in the oven. The point of the entire discussion is that by bring blood pressure calculators to the wrist and connecting it to the largest network in the world, that is the internet, scientists will automatically have access to hundreds of thousands of data points.

blood pressure

How can this data help in calculating new blood pressure by age standards? What is average blood pressure by age? What is normal blood pressure by age? Well, with the bulk of data entering the processing units, data scientists can search for patterns and trends in the data sets. This can lead to finding specific standards not only by age, but by geography, ethnicity, food habits etc. A 50-year-old man in Turkey might have a higher normal blood pressure than a 50-year-old man living in the Tropics. Meat dominated diets in the Middle East are actually responsible for a lot of anomalies in the health standards of the world. The point is that with the amount of data that will be processed, accuracy of conclusions will certainly increase. The Framingham Heart Study was limited to the people living in the city of Framingham, Massachusetts and included approximately 5000 subjects. IoT can expand this number to millions.

With new data coming in, medications that are usually prescribed may be challenged, and demands for new treatment methodologies may spring up. Blood pressure by age and sex as well as by other governing parameters demand specific types of medications to treat abnormal blood pressure. As one study suggests [Source], “This experience suggests that data science methodology using machine learning may be an effective means for repurposing medications already on the market, for new indications.” Clearly, data science and machine learning are poised to become the crucial factors in the future of healthcare research.

Last but of course not the least, with data sets at hand, prognosis and diagnosis accuracy becomes more accurate. In simpler words, the data acts as a ‘professional experience’ at times; it is easier to treat say, a 45 year old woman from China, if you have data of hundreds of 45 year old Chinese women. To add to this, prediction of diseases becomes easier. Specific trends in the data arrays might reveal numbers that can predict that chances of blood pressure related diseases like hypertension, which is common in the aging section of the population.

Blood pressure by age: Conclusion

The worst part of aging is the deterioration of health. Hypertension is one of the most common diseases plaguing the older section of our times. What makes it more dangerous is that it often shows no symptoms. Similarly, other cardiac related disease require better and faster methods of diagnosis and treatment. Constant monitoring of blood pressure and other cardiac variables is hence required, for data collection, prediction, diagnosis, as well as treatment.

Every new thing that is invented has its pros and cons. When scientists split the atom, the consequences fell on either side of the moral compass. Our age is obsessed with technology and all that it brings with it. It is the duty and the responsibility of the educated portion to handle technology in a way that is beneficial for mankind. Only then can we contribute to a safer and healthier world.