Healthcare experts look to technology to tackle hypertension

16 January 2015

My Hypertension_by_John_Cairns_January_2015-17
© John Cairns

Experts from around the world met in Oxford this week to explore the potential of mobile technologies as a tool to tackle the problem of high blood pressure, which already affects over 1 billion people worldwide and is the primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, is the world's largest killer, accounting for 30% of global deaths. Though it's no longer an impenetrable problem, in 2011, the World Health Organization issued a report stating that 80% of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable.

Hosted by The George Institute for Global Health, with The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, the Global mHypertension Workshop focused on how to scale up the use of mobile technologies, such as apps, smartphones and monitoring devices, for the prevention and management of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. It was part of the ‘Be Healthy Be Mobile’ initiative between the World Health Organization and the International Telecommunication Union, which focuses on using mobile phones to tackle a variety of non-communicable diseases.

Invited attendees and speakers came from a diverse range of organisations, including Public Health England, SMART Health India, Bupa, the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases, NHS Innovation, and Frog Design.

Organiser Dr Fred Hersch, James Martin Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health, said he hoped the workshop had cultivated “an understanding of how we might be able to use mobile technologies to implement the ‘best buys’ for cardiovascular disease – prevention and management”. Helping healthcare workers and patients to harness the potential of mobile technology would "reduce the burden on the healthcare system, and also promote healthy living and wellbeing", he added.