Pulse rate monitoring before C-section can reduce need for medication

Expectant mothers undergoing a Caesarean section are often prescribed preventative medications to maintain blood pressure. But these medications come with side effects for both the mother and newborn. In a study, published in Annals of Biomedical Engineering, researchers evaluated pulse rate monitoring in identifying mothers who would not need medication and reduce side effects.

Led by Augusto Navarro of the Miguel Servet University Hospital, the work aimed to identify how pulse rate monitoring can determine a patient's need for blood pressure medication. While most women having a C-section birth experience a 20 percent drop in blood pressure after receiving spinal anesthesia, these preventative medications can cause excessively high blood pressure which causes oxygen deprivation and acid in the baby's blood.

The study evaluated the vital signs of 54 women receiving preventative medicine and 51 that did not to identify if women required medication and how much. The women were fitted with an electrocardiogram sensor and a pulse photo plethysmograph sensor on their finger while sitting or lying down to collect data. Results showed that women who did not receive preventative medication did develop low blood pressure, to which researchers recommended clinicians focus on patients with blood pressure in its normal range.

The team hopes future research will account for the unpredictability of a women’s pulse when moving as well as measuring pulse transit time while in different positions.

"The combination of demographic data and features derived from electrocardiogram and pulse photo plethysmograph signals can lead to better classification results," said Navarro.