Researchers at Florida Atlantic University have developed a belt that can monitor heart failure patients for signs of disease progression. The wearable device measures heart rate, thoracic impedance, electrocardiogram, and motion, all of which can provide information on a heart failure patient’s status and potentially enable early detection of disease exacerbation. So far, the researchers have tested the device in a variety of everyday contexts, including routine activities, such as sitting, lying, standing, and walking, and found that it performs quite well. The researchers hope that the technology could help to reduce hospital readmission for heart failure patients by highlighting issues before they get worse.
Over six million people in the US live with heart failure. The condition can be debilitating and life altering, and is progressive. Many heart failure patients must undergo repeat hospital admission as their condition deteriorates. Finding a way to monitor such patients while they are at home could yield dividends in terms of early intervention and better patient outcomes. While some monitors are available, not all patients are suitable to use them and some are invasive, requiring an implanted device. There is a clear need for better solutions. “Approximately 1 in 4 patients with heart failure are readmitted within 30 days of discharge from the hospital and about half are readmitted within six months,” said Mary Ann Leavitt, one of the lead developers of the new belt. “Health care wearable devices such as the prototype we have developed have the potential to decrease hospital readmissions in a cost-effective way that also is safe and convenient for the wearer.” The lightweight belt contains sensors that detect a variety of physiological signals in real time. The researchers have tested whether the technology can provide consistent and reliable readings during a variety of everyday activities. So far, the device has proven to be very reliable. “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 Waseem Asghar, another researcher involved in the study. “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.” See a video demonstrating the belt below. Study in journal Scientific Reports: Development of a wearable belt with integrated sensors for measuring multiple physiological parameters related to heart failure Conn Hastings Conn Hastings received a PhD from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland for his work in drug delivery, investigating the potential of injectable hydrogels to deliver cells, drugs and nanoparticles in the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. After achieving his PhD and completing a year of postdoctoral research, Conn pursued a career in academic publishing, before becoming a full-time science writer and editor, combining his experience within the biomedical sciences with his passion for written communication.