A patient whose doctor was unable to identify the cause of his high blood pressure created an app and figured out how to cure his condition on his own.
Cameron Elliot, from Manchester, was advised by his GP to cut his salt intake after being diagnosed with high blood pressure in 2016, putting him at high risk of a heart attack or stroke.
But Cameron knew he already ate a low-salt diet, so the data analyst set about creating a revolutionary way to find out what was really going on.
Cameron began recording his blood pressure readings daily and mapping these against his levels of stress, sleep quality, salt intake, weight, physical activity and other factors to see what else could be behind his health problem.
A month later, he put his results into a graph and the cause ‘jumped out of the screen’.
It was clear that stress and poor sleep were causing his condition, so he took action and within a month his blood pressure was in the healthy range.
Now, Cameron wants other people to be able to use the same methods to monitor their own blood pressure and lifestyles in order to keep themselves healthy.
He launched BP Owl, a new app that uses his data analysis method to provide people with a simple way to identify what aspects of their lifestyle are causing their blood pressure to spike, so they can focus on addressing those factors.
‘High blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer” because there are no symptoms, which can make a diagnosis both scary and quite hard to accept,’ says Cameron.
‘I was confident that if I got enough data I’d have a good chance of discovering what was behind it though and within a month of daily recording I was able to pull a graph that showed clearly how my blood pressure spiked on days where I’d reported having a poor sleep and feeling particularly stressed.’
Cameron says the focus of the app is on simplicity and ease-of-use. All you have to do is record what you have done and how you feel, and the app will do the rest.
‘Within 30 days you’ll have a definitive answer for what is causing your high blood pressure and can take steps to address it,’ he adds.
‘Our goal is to help people take their health into their own hands – we want to give people the tools they need to beat high blood pressure naturally.’
High blood pressure is the world’s biggest killer, causing an estimated 10.4m deaths per year, yet with so many potential lifestyle causes it can be difficult for health professionals to identify the cause for individual patients.
The condition – which affects one in four people in the UK – is responsible for at least half of all heart attacks and strokes, and is a major risk factor for chronic kidney disease, heart failure and dementia.
For every 10 people who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is estimated that a further seven are unaware that they have it.
BP Owl has also been working with cardiovascular specialist, Dr Lutz Kraushaar, from Bielefeld University in Germany.
‘BP Owl is a big step towards personalized preventive medicine, something which doctors don’t currently have the capacity to provide,’ said Dr Kraushaar.
‘Currently, the medical profession relies on clinical trials as the foundation of its advice to patients.
‘However, trials typically test a single intervention and generalise their conclusions based on averages, even though, in reality, it’s likely that the intervention worked really well for some people, less well for others and not at all – or even negatively – for a small number.
‘BP Owl turns this method on its head in favour of the user, so that rather than being limited by a one-size-fits-all intervention, the individual can trial-and-error multiple options until they find what’s most effective for them.’