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Wearable Vest System Could Help People with Heart Failure Stay Out of the Hospital

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 27 Oct 2022
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Image: A wearable vest system can monitor heart failure patients at home and detect their worsening condition (Photo courtesy of Pexels)
Image: A wearable vest system can monitor heart failure patients at home and detect their worsening condition (Photo courtesy of Pexels)

Early detection of acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) traditionally relies on monitoring weight gain, although weight alone does not accurately gauge the fluid accumulation that predicts the decline of patients with heart failure. Now, a team of researchers are developing a wearable vest system designed to monitor heart failure patients in their home and detect when their condition is worsening. Such early detection could lead to treatment changes and other interventions that prevent hospitalizations.

A multidisciplinary research team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, MA, USA) is developing an innovative three-channel bioimpedance and electrocardiogram monitor with reusable, dry and flexible electrodes embedded in a wearable cotton vest. Coupled with a smartphone application and cloud server, the system will collect, transmit and monitor physiological data that will be used to develop a clinical decision-support algorithm to accurately detect early ADHF and identify patients who may need prompt medical attention. Bioimpedance measures how the body impedes electric current flow.

The new system researchers are working on expands, refines and improves an earlier version of the wearable vest. The project has been awarded a USD 2.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute to advance, refine and test the technology. The vest only needs to be worn for five minutes a day. It will be equipped with silicone-based electrodes designed by the researchers and an air tube to improve contact with the skin. The researchers will test the system on a diverse group of people with heart failure who are at high risk for ADHF after they have left the hospital. For 45 days after hospital discharge, the participants will wear the vest for five minutes each day, and the research team will evaluate the performance and usability of the system.

“With this system, we added a cloud-based database system so once we measure the patient’s impedance and heart signal, the data is automatically loaded to the cloud so the researchers can get access to it and see what’s happening. And this time, we can notice if there is some issue with the skin-electrode contact and the patients can fix it themselves,” said Yeonsik Noh, assistant professor who holds a joint appointment in the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing and the College of Engineering’s electrical and computer engineering department. “In the case of heart failure, there is a very high rate of readmissions to the hospital. So before that happens, we’ll be monitoring their conditions, and the clinicians can take action before they get worse. And that can prevent other complications. That is the main point of this project.”

Related Links:
University of Massachusetts Amherst 

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