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Remote System Helps Rehabilitate Heart Pathologies

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 13 Jan 2015
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Image: The HeartCycle GEx mobile tablet device (Photo courtesy of Universitat Politècnica de València).
Image: The HeartCycle GEx mobile tablet device (Photo courtesy of Universitat Politècnica de València).
A new distance rehabilitation system for people affected by heart pathologies uses guided exercise (GEX) routines to help them adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Developed by researchers at Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV; Spain), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM; Spain), and Medtronic (Minneapolis, MN, USA), the HeartCycle GEx is based on a dedicated shirt with incorporated wireless sensors to monitor electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate (HR), breathing frequency (BF), and activity during exercise. The information is streamed live to a mobile tablet device that creates an online connection between the cardiologist in the hospital and the patients in their homes.

The tablet device also provides streaming multimedia content, an avatar, and graphic information about the indicators related to the patient’s performance (such as heart rate, effort level, etc.). In addition, the HeartCycle GEx is connected to the hospital information system (HIS) in order to guarantee optimum, personalized health care for the patient. The system enables each user's condition to be monitored and the response to the instructed therapy assessed, so that individual plans can be created, and any deterioration in health status that requires immediate intervention can be detected.

The physician also has at his disposal a web application in which to program the prescribed plan adapted to the patient’s physical condition, as assessed by an effort test. The system was validated with 132 patients at three hospitals in Spain, Germany, and the United Kingdom and, according to the tests performed, it provides better results than traditional rehabilitation programs. The results of the study were published in the November 2014 issue of the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

“The Achilles' heel of heart rehabilitation is that patients abandon it in a few weeks, so its effect is watered down. If the user is motivated, the level of compliance will increase and their health will improve,” said Álvaro Martínez-Romero, a researcher at the ITACA Institute of the UPV. “The most important aspect is to improve adherence to the rehabilitation plan and maintain it over time, and this system does just that.”

“Today, the heart rehabilitation programs in Spain take place in hospitals or specialized centers. HeartCycle GEx is an initial step to the new heart rehabilitation systems of the future, providing personalized solutions, adapted to each patient and accessible from any location,” added Cecilia Vera Muñoz, MSc, a researcher at the Life Supporting Technologies Group of the UPM. “HeartCycle GEx is a different and convenient alternative to access to those programs since the patients can follow them anywhere, even at home, maintaining the level of health care that they receive.”

Related Links:

Universitat Politècnica de València
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

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