A new wearable using artificial intelligence technology can remotely alert doctors to changes in heart failure patients days before a major attack occurs. In a study spearheaded by the University of Utah Health and VA Salt Lake City Health Care System, scientists say the sensor could lead to the prevention of one in three readmissions that commonly take place in the weeks following a patients first departure from hospital.
“There’s a high risk for readmission in the 90 days after initial discharge,” explains Dr Josef Stehlik, co-chief of the advanced heart failure program at U of U Health. “This study shows that we can accurately predict the likelihood of hospitalisation for heart failure deterioration well before doctors and patients know that something is wrong.”
Josef continued: “Being able to readily detect changes in the heart sufficiently early will allow physicians to initiate prompt interventions that could prevent rehospitalisation and stave off worsening heart failure.”
In trials of the sensor, 100 coronary disease patients were tracked from four separate hospitals after their initial discharge. They wore the sensor patch for up to three months, which monitored electrocardiogram (ECG) and the movement of patients. Collected data was then passed via Bluetooth to a smartphone and on to a PhysIQ analytics platform. This looked at indicators including heart rhythm, sleep, and body posture; with AI calculating a normal baseline for each patient. Any baseline changes then provided a warning of deterioration. The subsequent need for rehospitalisation was predicted accurately in 80% of cases. Researchers now plan to conduct a larger trial to further explore its ability to alert doctors and also to test whether early interventions made result in a reduced number of rehospitalisations.
Testing and designing devices to combat cardiovascular disease, one of the world’s biggest killers, is extremely tricky. But another breakthrough this month, by MIT researchers, could pave the way for an acceleration in new tools. In developing a bionic heart using robotics and heart tissue the team created a realistic model for testing prosthetic valves and other cardiac devices, one which could revolutionise progress in the field; and like the sensor patch, it promises personalised solutions.
“Imagine that a patient before cardiac device implantation could have their heart scanned, and then clinicians could tune the device to perform optimally in the patient well before the surgery,” said Chris Nguyen, co-lead author. “Also, with further tissue engineering, we could potentially see the biorobotic hybrid heart be used as an artificial heart — a very needed potential solution given the global heart failure epidemic where millions of people are at the mercy of a competitive heart transplant list.”