24-hour wearable ECG recorder measures heart data together with patient’s physical activity
Patients typically consult their doctor or remain in hospital under observation for a longer period of time after an operation. To alleviate such procedures, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS in Dresden have developed a comfortable ECG recorder that reads and analyses long-term ECGs at home in everyday conditions and then transmits the results to the doctor in real-time by radio.
During an ECG the doctor only sees the temporal course of the electrical stimulation of the heart. In order to be able to draw conclusions about the function of the organ and thus find indications of possible coronary diseases he has to interpret the resulting pattern of the changes in tension of the heart.
Important criteria here are the peaks and troughs of the stress amplitudes, their steepness and duration as well as the temporal gaps between these. Since complaints or certain events – for example sports – can affect the result of the examination, doctors prefer to read resting or exercise ECGs under controlled conditions. However, in the case of sporadic symptoms, for example cardiac arrhythmia, that only occur temporarily and are thus not always recorded in an ECG, or phenomena that occur under special conditions in daily life, or patients who want to return home as quickly as possible after a longer stay in hospital, but who still want to feel safe, the electrocardiogram has to be recorded continuously over 24 hours or longer.
The SmartVital 3-channel ECG recorder developed at the Fraunhofer IPMS targets precisely these fields of application. SmartVital is small, light and easy to use. But above all, the devices offer a real-time analysis of the ECG signals based on various methods such as the rhythm analysis, QRS classification, an analysis of the auricular activity, changes in the ST-segments (ischemiae) and QT measurement.
If the evaluation software identifies an abnormality in the ECG, the recorder sends an ECG section to the doctor via a gateway, who can then decide on any further steps. This does away with a visit to the doctor that would otherwise be necessary. The quality of the readings is also increased by recording and analyzing the patient’s movements and thus their physical activity during the measurement. SmartVital combines movement information with the ECG data so that any changes to the ECG can be assigned to the relevant physical stress situation and disturbances due to motion artifacts can be clearly identified.
The device, which is equipped with a motion sensor for this purpose, automatically detects whether the patient is standing up, lying down, walking, running or climbing stairs. For example, a pathological tachycardia is not presumed if the patient climbs some stairs and the heart rate increases, because this is normal in this stress situation. Another advantage: the ECG is recorded under everyday stress without the patient having to keep records about their daily routine.
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