People with hypertension often have to perform arm-cuff blood pressure readings multiple times per day. Not only is this a hassle, but it may not provide a complete picture of their problem – that's where the always-on Aktiia wearable is designed to come in.
Readers in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Ireland and Italy may already be familiar with Aktiia, as it officially launched in those countries in 2021. Last week at CES 2022, however, the Aktiia company announced the product's upcoming availability to US customers.
The hardware end of the system consists of a bracelet, which the user constantly wears on one wrist. Utilizing an existing process known as photoplethysmography, that device emits pulses of green light which shine through the skin and into the underlying arteries. By analyzing the manner in which that light is reflected back to photoreceptors on the underside of the bracelet, it's possible to ascertain how the diameter of the arteries change with each heartbeat.
That information is in turn utilized to calculate the wearer's present blood pressure. The data is displayed in real time on a wirelessly-linked smartphone app, which also keeps a record of readings so that users (and their physicians) can see how their blood pressure changes over time. One hundred and fifty readings are automatically performed each week, both day and night, and in multiple body positions.
By contrast, manual arm-cuff-type readings tend to be performed much less often, and under a smaller range of conditions. Additionally, because the cuffs can be uncomfortable, patients' blood pressure may end up being higher than normal when those readings are taken.
Aktiia has already been the subject of European clinical trials, and will soon be assessed in an American trial to be conducted in partnership with Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. Assuming the device passes FDA review, it should be widely available to US customers later this year – there's no word on availability in other regions.
US pricing has yet to be announced, although Aktiia presently sells in the UK for £200 (about US$271). Potential buyers might want to check out the already-US-available Mocacuff, although it's considerably bulkier.