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World Health Day Highlights Hypertension in Developing Nations as GE Outlines Diagnostic Solutions


This year the focus of World Health Day is on hypertension


Worldwide, hypertension is a condition which affects more than one in three adults with the proportion going up to one in two for people aged 50 and above.

World Health Day—7 April 2013—is an opportunity for the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to highlight a priority area of public health concern. This year the focus is on hypertension. While increasing public awareness is important, the campaign aims to promote the systems and services in place to make essential diagnostics and management of the condition more affordable.

Worldwide, hypertension is a condition which affects more than one in three adults with the proportion going up to one in two for people aged 50 and above. The number of people with high blood pressure rose from 600 million in 1980 to 1 billion in 2008.


Healthcare in the Developing Nations

According to WHO’s World Health Statistics 2012 report, the African region has the highest incidence of hypertension among the general population at 46 per cent. Most of them remain undiagnosed. Globally, overall prevalence of hypertension in adults aged 25 and older was around 40 percent in 2008. With the rise in hypertension patients, healthcare systems around the world have been required to reassess the growing demand for preventive care and monitoring devices particularly in the developing nations.

A goal that is common to less wealthy nations is to improve initial assessment of patients. Unfortunately, acute shortage of general physicians in rural areas makes this difficult. The aim then is strengthen the level of service at existing primary health centers (PHCs) and rural clinics. This includes upgrading the facilities available at the PHCs such as essential medicines and diagnostic apparatus.


GE Healthcare – Meeting the Healthcare Paradigm Shift

Blood pressure measuring devices have been singled out as technology to meet the objectives in creating a leaner, more efficient, healthcare infrastructure and diagnostics organizations are expected to contribute significantly to the manufacture of new technologies to market with each new advanced test promising to boost the standard of care, speed results and increase accuracy.

Currently, developed economies like Europe and America hold the lion’s share of blood pressure monitoring and measurement instruments market with GE Healthcare having established a strong manufacturing and logistics network. Asia Pacific is also expected to contribute significantly to this market as manufacturers are expected to make further gains due to increases in chronic diseases amongst the elderly and obese, and developments in technology.

GE Healthcare Life Care Solutions (LCS) is a division of GE Healthcare that has been created to understand and address clinical needs in variety of care area settings through the hospital. LCS develops medical devices that help sustain life and support patient care in every setting throughout the hospital, from the emergency room to the perioperative suite as well as labor and delivery through to the intensive care unit (both adult ICU and NICU). 

The LCS product line includes the DINAMAP® technology that is well known for non-invasive blood pressure determination. DINAMAP monitors hypertensive patients, detects hypertension in patients and monitors the presence of Motion Artifact. 

DINAMAP works with Oscillometry methodology—the most commonly used means of indirect blood pressure measurement in automated devices. It is based on the principle that pulsatile blood flow through an artery creates oscillations of the arterial wall. Oscillometric devices utilize a blood pressure cuff to sense these oscillations that appear as tiny pulsations in cuff pressure. Although most blood pressure technologies utilize some variant of the Oscillometric Method, DINAMAP® Technology implements innovations in cuff inflation and deflation and the process used to measure and validate pulsations to achieve industry standards in accuracy and reliability.

“At Life Care Solutions, we are developing technology to address concerns around blood pressure accuracy with obese patients,” explained David Barash MD, Chief Medical Officer, Life Care Solutions and Executive Medical Director, GE Healthcare. “We are also developing technology that will diagnose patients suffering from the specific complications of high blood pressure, such as ventricular hypertrophy, much sooner than they otherwise might be diagnosed. Both of these technologies may ensure better medical results, and may also be able to improve economic outcomes.”


Blood Pressure Management – The Road Ahead

With an increase in the number of patients diagnosed with hypertension, the race is now on to create ever more innovative and cutting edge monitoring devices for the care of this condition. Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) has emerged as a significant tool for diagnosing hypertension and providing a new dimension in in-clinic and home blood pressure monitoring. Systems new to the market are designed to monitor blood pressure variability, changes in blood pressure overnight and morning spikes in blood pressure. The results of ABPM testing provide the most complete representation of a patient’s overall blood pressure profile.

Dr Barash has ideas around the significant patient and clinical benefits that may come from focusing on physiological data mining, which may create the ability for clinicians to gain additional insights that may contribute to the overall patient management/treatment of hypertension. “The biggest innovation that we will see in the next 10 years will be the ability to analyze multiple bodies of data from multiple sources over time for both individual patient and subpopulations of patients,” he said.

“We will soon be able to leverage large amounts of data to perform sophisticated analytics and allow clinicians to use these analytics to predict those patients who are at risk to develop high blood pressure, at risk of suffering the consequences of high blood pressure, more likely to respond to possible specific treatments and those at high-risk and, thus, needing additional therapeutic intervention.”

“Big data", as it is known, will be the greatest innovation we have seen in healthcare in the last 20 years. It has the potential to drive better healthcare diagnostics, predictive modeling of patient care, and proactive intervention. Prevention is well-known to reduce costs and improve clinical outcomes. Big data and predictive analytics might enable clinicians to foresee those patients on a troublesome trajectory, such as persistent hypertension and its associated complications and to intervene before clinical complications develop.”