Researchers have now engineered a blood pressure sensor that uses ultrasound technology and can be worn as a flexible skin patch, and it is likely this new technology could replace other methods of monitoring blood pressure. This stretchable flexible patch monitors the pressure of blood flowing through arteries and other blood vessels, which when too high can harm organs when it remains that way for too long. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and other health problems. But this common disease usually doesn’t cause warning symptoms, so many people don’t know they have it.

A blood pressure test is the only way to detect hypertension. The usual method is with a blood pressure cuff on the arm. Another method is with a small device called a tonometer pressed against the skin over a blood vessel. For patients who are critically ill, health care providers can obtain even more accurate blood pressure readings by inserting a special tube inside an artery near the heart. This method is called cardiac catheterization.

The precision and accuracy of the skin patch hasn’t yet been compared to the invasive catheterization method of measuring blood pressure, but for the next phase of development, the team would like to engineer a way to make the skin patch wireless.