"Smart" vitals-monitoring belt designed to warn of heart failure

"Smart" vitals-monitoring belt designed to warn of heart failure
The belt in its current prototype form
The belt in its current prototype form
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The belt in its current prototype form
The belt in its current prototype form

If someone is at risk of heart failure, it's important to monitor their vital signs on an ongoing basis. An experimental new wearable is designed to do exactly that, and it takes the form of an electronically endowed belt.

Designed by a team of scientists at Florida Atlantic University, the waist-worn device is combined with electrodes attached to the chest and abdomen.

It incorporates the functions of an electrocardiogram, heart rate monitor, motion detector and thoracic impedance sensor – thoracic impedance refers to the hindrance to flow of an electrical current carried by ions across the chest, and it's a critical bio-signal for detecting heart failure.

Data from the sensors is wirelessly relayed to a paired smartphone via Bluetooth, and could thus be relayed in real time to health care workers.

In lab tests where the device was used alongside traditional monitoring techniques, it was found to accurately measure all of the designated parameters. Importantly, it wasn't adversely affected by different body positions or activities, such as sitting, standing, lying down and walking.

Although there are other methods of monitoring patients as they're out and about, the scientists state that existing alternatives don't track as many metrics simultaneously, or they incorporate sensors that have to be surgically implanted. The prototype belt is now being tested on a variety of volunteers, in order to develop an algorithm that will predict heart failure based on the gathered data.

"All of the sensors we integrated into our belt module can easily be worn for a long period of time without affecting the patient’s daily activities," said Assoc. Prof. Waseem Asghar, senior author of a paper on the research. "Importantly, continuous and real-time monitoring of heart failure symptoms could alert patients and their health care providers of the patient’s declining health. In turn, health care providers could intervene with medications to avoid patient hospitalization."

The paper was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Source: Florida Atlantic University

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