A patient whose doctor was unable to identify the cause of his high blood pressure has launched a 5-star rated app that could transform the treatment of hypertension, after his data analysis method allowed him to cure his own condition.
The BP Owl app was developed by data analyst Cameron Elliot from Shorecross, Manchester, UK, who was advised by his GP to cut his salt intake after being diagnosed with high blood pressure at 180/95mmHg in 2016, putting him at high risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Knowing he already ate a low salt diet, Cameron instead 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.
Using what he has learnt, Cameron has now launched BP Owl, a revolutionary five-star rated app that uses his data analysis method to provide people with a super simple way to identify what aspects of their lifestyle are causing their blood pressure to spike, so they can focus their efforts on addressing those factors.
High blood pressure is the world’s biggest killer, causing an estimated 10.4m deaths per year¹, yet with so many potential lifestyle causes it can be increasingly difficult for time-stretched health professionals² to get to the bottom of the root cause for individual patients.
The condition – which affects one in four people in the UK³ – 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. Treating hypertension costs the NHS a staggering £2.1 billion per year³ and the number of people searching Google for help and advice has more than doubled in the UK over the last 10 years⁴.
For every 10 people who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is estimated that a further seven are unaware that they have it³.
Since launching in March, BP Owl has already had more than 23,000 downloads of its BP Owl and BP Healthy apps via word-of-mouth. The BP Owl app is a diagnostic app that uses data analysis to uncover what is causing an individual’s high blood pressure, while BP Healthy helps users lower their numbers through small changes to diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation and other lifestyle factors.
BP Owl has also been working with respected cardiovascular specialist, Dr Lutz Kraushaar, from Bielefeld University in Germany, who will be partnering with the organisation on various research projects and experiments to uncover the simple changes people can make to impact their blood pressure the most.
BP Owl founder, Cameron, who now maintains an average blood pressure of just under 120/80mmHg, commented: “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.
“In my case, the doctor advised me to reduce my salt intake, perhaps because that advice had worked on other patients in the past. However, everyone’s condition is different and I knew that this wouldn’t make any difference to me as I already ate a low salt diet – which made me feel even more powerless against my condition.
“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. I was then able to isolate those factors and take steps to address them, which brought my blood pressure under control. At this point I knew I had to let others know about my method.”
Cameron initially tried to pass on his knowledge by launching a supportive Facebook community and website, but while people liked the sound of his idea, the feedback was always the same – that it’s too complicated to follow in practice. That’s where the idea for an app came from.
“The whole focus of the app is on simplicity and ease-of-use,” says Cameron. “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. 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.”
Dr Kraushaar, who has a doctorate in Health Science and has been working with BP Owl, commented: “BP Owl is a big step towards personalized preventive medicine, something which doctors don’t currently have the capacity to provide.
“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.
“Clinical trials are so important in helping us to narrow down the basket of potentially helpful interventions, but it has long been clear that the last mile between medical trials and the individual patient needs a bridge. It’s fantastic to see a new breed of personalised tech solutions coming through to help us bridge that gap and BP Owl is a wonderful example of this in the ecosystem of blood pressure and hypertension.”
Giovanna Fritz from Lemington, Warwickshire, commented: “I love the BP Owl app. My doctor said I needed to lose some weight, exercise more, reduce my salt, consume less fat in my diet – in other words do everything! It left me really confused. I used the BP owl app and after 20 days it showed me how much higher my numbers are on my poor sleep days compared to days with good sleep. I now go to bed at 10.30pm each night, don’t have my phone in my bedroom and listen to a relaxing CD. I sleep so much better now and my BP has dropped from 140 / 82 mmHg to 122 / 82 mmHg.”
You can download the BP Owl app for the iPhone from the App Store here and an Android app is currently in development. The BP Healthy app is available here for people wanting to drill down on their eating and activity habits.
You can find out more about BP Owl via the website here.