Novel technologies for keeping tabs on the heart

Continuous monitoring of the heart is necessary to detect abnormal heart rhythms and prevent sudden cardiac deaths. EU-funded research has helped to develop a novel device to make this more convenient for both doctors and patients.

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  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


 

Published: 1 July 2019  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Health & life sciencesMedical research
Innovation
Research policyHorizon 2020
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Brazil  |  Colombia  |  Croatia  |  France  |  Ireland  |  United Kingdom  |  Venezuela
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Novel technologies for keeping tabs on the heart

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© ra2 studio #176685468, source: stock.adobe.com 2019

Updated on 1 July 2019

Cardiovascular disease is one of the biggest killers worldwide in both developed and developing nations. Sudden death, usually caused by lethal cardiac arrhythmias, accounts of 50 % of deaths due to heart disease. It remains relatively difficult to detect irregular heart beat problems early enough to implement the appropriate treatment.

In order to reliably detect arrhythmia problems, it is necessary to monitor the rhythm of the heart for periods of 36 hours or more at a time. Until now, this was challenging as the only options available were a rather clumsy system of attachable electrodes that interfered with a patient’s daily activities, or implanted recording devices inserted under the patient’s skin – which posed problems of cost and risk of infection.

The EU-funded WASTCARD project set itself the objective of developing a smarter, more cost-effective, wearable heart monitoring device that would make it far easier to monitor the heart’s daily rhythm for long periods, thus facilitating the early detection of cardiac health issues in patients at risk.

‘The most common form of arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, is associated with increased risk of stroke and heart failure,’ says project coordinator Omar Escalona from the Ulster University, Northern Ireland. ‘If this is detected at an early stage, however, appropriate treatment can be effective in reducing disability and death. We set out to provide a cheaper, more convenient and more effective way of doing this.’

Non-invasive long-term screening

One of the challenges faced by the project was how to deal with the noise contamination of signals caused by movement or muscular activity in the arm. To overcome this, WASTCARD developed an advanced, real-time signal processing technique for effective ECG signal recovery capable of giving reliable readings even with noise interference.

This resulted in the design of an advanced dry electrode-based monitoring system that can be comfortably worn on the patient’s arm, allowing non-invasive long-term screening. ‘The WASTCARD heart monitor arm band is both intelligent and inexpensive and addresses a real clinical need,’ says Escalona. ‘We expect it to have an immediate impact on healthcare costs by improving the efficiency of diagnosis and cutting down the use of hospital beds and time spent in emergency healthcare services.’

Smarter healthcare

The WASTCARD device will also be a useful tool in clinical research and has the potential to be successfully integrated into a telemedicine or e-medicine approach leading to smarter healthcare. The prototype monitoring system was configured to operate within a WiFi network using a laptop or smartphone and can be made available to any other device within the same network. The project partners are working on further development of the monitor.

WASTCARD received funding from the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme.

Project details

  • Project acronym: WASTCARD
  • Participants: United Kingdom (Coordinator), France, Ireland, Croatia, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil
  • Project N°: 645759
  • Total costs: € 324 000
  • EU contribution: € 324 000
  • Duration: May 2015 to April 2018

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