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Could a smartphone app detect diabetes? – Medical News Today

Monday, 11 March, 2019

Could a smartphone app detect diabetes? – Medical News Today

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Today, millions of people in the United States are unaware that they have diabetes. A recent study finds that data from a readily available smartphone app could help detect diabetes in people without requiring a trip to the clinic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes.

Worryingly, almost one in four people in the U.S. are living with diabetes but do not know.

Without treatment, diabetes can have serious health consequences, including kidney problems, eye conditions, heart disease, and stroke.

Currently, a doctor needs to take a blood sample to diagnose diabetes, which generally requires a trip to the clinic.

For a wide range of reasons, many people do not have easy access to healthcare, so it is important to find simpler ways of detecting diabetes.

Using an app to diagnose diabetes

Recently, researchers from the University of California in San Francisco decided to investigate an innovative and freely available solution: a common smartphone app.

They capitalized on a function that many fitness apps on the market already use, called a photoplethysmography (PPG) signal. This technology uses the smartphone's camera and flash.

When the heart pushes blood away, this generates a pulse of pressure that moves through the body. Peripheral blood vessels swell to accommodate the incoming blood.

By placing the smartphone's flash and camera next to a finger, it is possible to observe the minute changes resulting from this expansion of the blood vessels. With every contraction of the heart, the skin reflects an increasing amount of light.

The smartphone's camera can detect this change, and from this data, it is possible to extract information about blood flow.

In the early phases of diabetes, certain vascular changes occur. "Diabetes can be asymptomatic for a long period of time, yet adverse vascular changes still occur silently, which can lead to cardiovascular complications," explains Dr. Robert Avram.

"This makes it especially important for us to examine low-cost, noninvasive opportunities that make it easy to screen millions of people."

Read more at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324643.php

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