Dean Picone, Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania
Heart disease is the world’s biggest killer, and high blood pressure is the number one warning sign. Dean Picone is developing a smarter way to measure blood pressure, to save lives and prevent unnecessary treatment.
“We’ve been measuring blood pressure the same way for more than 100 years,” Dean says. He thinks modern technology can do better than the standard inflatable cuff method.
Dean is one of three finalists for the inaugural CSL Florey Next Generation Award, with a $20,000 prize. The Award, supported by CSL Limited, will be conferred to a current PhD candidate who has demonstrated outstanding capability, creativity and potential in the biomedical sciences, health and medical research.
“If people have their true blood pressure underestimated, they could miss out on life-saving treatment,” Dean says. “But if it’s measured too high, they might be getting treatment they don’t need and being exposed to side effects like falls and kidney damage. Not to mention the cost of medication.”
Dean’s research has compared results from the inflatable cuff method with results taken from probes inserted into blood vessels.
Dean has been analysing the shape of the pressure wave more closely, which can reveal more detailed information about heart health. He has also found relationships between the pressure wave shape and accurate blood pressure measurement.
The next step is to develop reliable and accessible techniques for blood pressure measurement.
“Ultimately we want to see a world with no heart attacks and no strokes,” Dean says. “Accurate measurement of blood pressure is a first step.”