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Global Health Challenge:


Globally, 18.5% of maternal deaths are related to hypertension. Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are two common pregnancy-specific hypertensive disorders. These conditions disproportionately affect developing countries: the risk of dying from pre-eclampsia or eclampsia in the developing world is 300 times higher than in the developed world. Diagnosis of pre-eclampsia requires measurements of blood pressure and proteinuria. In situations in high income countries where pre-eclampsia is severe, blood pressure may be monitored as often as every 15 minutes.  Hospitals in low-resource settings are limited by the number of clinical staff available to manually take frequent blood pressure measurements. Automated blood pressure monitors serve as a less time-intensive alternative; however the cost of these devices is prohibitively high for most low-income settings. Furthermore, there is an absence of inexpensive blood pressure monitors with ambulatory features and alarms that allow for automatic, frequent monitoring and notification.


Rice 360° Solution:


Sphygmo is a low-cost, ambulatory, solar-rechargeable blood pressure monitor for pregnant women and women with pre-eclampsia that automatically monitors blood pressure at regular intervals and notifies the clinician as the condition becomes increasingly dangerous. This monitor is powered by rechargeable batteries maintained through a solar recharging station. The device also includes an easy-to-use interface that allows the user to set the acceptable physiological ranges for systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate, as well as the ambulation time interval. If the device measures outside these user-defined thresholds, both visual and auditory alarms are activated.


Current Staus and Next Steps:


Through a grant from Merck for Mothers, the Sphygmo device is undergoing the clinical evaluation phase through 3 clinical studies. This first study assessed the accuracy of the device measurements of a healthy adult population in Houston, Texas. In the second study, we are partnering with the University of Texas Health Science Center to evaluate the accuracy of the device for use in a pregnant and pre-eclamptic population. Finally, a pilot clinical evaluation at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Malawi is taking place to evaluate the device’s clinical monitoring capabilities in a similar population of pregnant/new mothers and assess the overall safety and efficacy of Sphygmo in the diagnosis and monitoring of pre-eclampsia in a low-resource hospital. The Sphygmo device is principally being designed to monitor blood pressure in pregnant women, albeit in the future this device may provide opportunities for other clinical conditions that require ambulatory monitoring.

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