Wearable device shown to predict worsening heart health
Heart failure isn't necessarily something that happens all at once, but is instead an ongoing condition that has to be monitored. A new wearable device is designed to help, by preemptively detecting changes that could ultimately require hospitalization.
Made by California-based biotech firm VitalConnect, the VitalPatch device was recently tested in a study led by University of Utah Health and the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System.
Temporarily adhered to the patient's chest, it constantly monitors their heart rate, heart rhythm and respiratory rate, plus it detects physical activity such as walking, sleeping and body posture. All of that data is transmitted by Bluetooth from the patch to an app on the patient's smartphone, from which it's uploaded to a cloud-based server.
A machine learning-based algorithm is then used to analyze the sensor data, comparing it to a previously-recorded baseline for that patient. If any changes that could be associated with a worsening of their condition are detected, they're alerted via the app. Ordinarily, such changes wouldn't be noticed by the patient or their doctor until considerably later, by which time the problem might be much worse.
In the recent test, 100 heart failure patients (average age 68 years) wore the patch 24 hours a day for a minimum of 30 days, after being discharged from the hospital for a heart failure event. All of the test subjects were veterans, and 98 percent of them were male.
It was found that the technology successfully predicted problems over 80 percent of the time, an average of 6.5 days before hospital readmission was required. The researchers now hope that with such an advance warning system, such readmissions may ultimately be unnecessary.
"If we can identify patients before heart failure worsens and if doctors have the opportunity to change therapy based on this novel prediction, we could avoid or reduce hospitalizations, improve patients’ lives and greatly reduce health care costs," says the University of Utah's Dr. Josef Stehlik, lead author of a paper on the study. "With the evolution of technology and with artificial intelligence statistical methods, we have new tools to make this happen."
The paper was published this week in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.
Source: American Heart Association