Monitor My Heart From Afar – Remote Monitoring of Cardiac Physiology Made Possible
‘The very essence of cardiovascular practice is the early detection of heart failure’Thomas Lewis
Cardiovascular care has enjoyed quiet a good number of technological advances over the decades. From the dynamic and challenging areas of cardiovascular pharmacology, to the more complex novel aspects of interventional cardiology, down or up to the engaging fields of cardiovascular surgeries. Permit me to also carve out a niche for diagnostic cardiology, where we talk about advances in electrophysiology, echocardiogram, and other cardiac imaging technologies.
New methods of care, developed by Cardiologists, Advance Practice Cardiac Registered Nurses, and other highly skilled Cardiac Care Professionals, have made cardiac care safer for clients and also opened the health care industry to more opportunities, exposing innovators, scientists and researchers to areas that need closer attention.
Over the years, the world of cardiac health has experienced ground breaking innovations. Innovators have been able to create solutions to problems that were considered impossible some years back. And today, with the exciting advances in the field of Information Communication Technologies, the promising area of digital health has also created some remarkable ideas that are beginning to improve patient outcomes in cardiac care.
Remote health monitoring is no longer science fiction. It is already becoming a reality. From less complex fitbits, that can track basic physiological parameters, to more sophisticated technologies, like the micro-computer designed by Vectorious a Med-tech start-up based in Tel-Aviv, Israel, which is able to monitor a wider range of the complex intrinsic physiologies of the human heart, making it easier for cardiologists to deliver safer care and provide timely interventions.
There is something remote care does for both the patient/client and the care giver. From the clients side, remote care reduces the need for unnecessary clinical visits. Most clinical visits are a waste of good time, of both the client and the care providers. Except for chronically ill patients that require close monitoring, other clinical visits, may be waste of time – good time.
Some chronically ill patients do not also have to keep coming to the hospital for regular check-ups if devices like these are made available. All that really matters is for the cardiologists to keep checking the real-time data sent by these devices, which are sent on a daily basis making it easier to detect early deviations from normal.
The hallmark sign of failing cardiac health is an abnormal increase in the pressures within the heart chambers [The Left Atrium and The Right Atrium – especially the left upper side of the heart], which is gradual and very subtle, making early detection by conventional hospital check-ups less efficient as compared to having a device implanted right in the heart that records physiological data everyday – remarkable!
Devices like the V-LAP, that uses an ASIC chip [application-specific integrated circuit] developed by Vectorious is going to make the care of patients with Heart Failure a lot more efficient and it will also make management of heart diseases in general a lot more easier for cardiac health care professionals.
It makes use of induction technology to transmit the readings to an external belt worn by the patient, which then transmits data to the cloud to be accessed by a team of cardiac health care professionals.
Is V-LAP Making Any Progress?
Cardiovascular care can be referred to as the “foundation of clinical practice“, simply because all other systems in the human body heavily depend on the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system.
Pressure is an important physiological element of the human body. It makes it possible for blood and other important fluid in the human body to go round the systems doing their jobs. You can also say – pressure makes it possible for volume to go round.
We are kept alive by the harmonious interaction that exists between pressure and volume – laws of physics.
If pressure becomes too low, there will be a problem, and if it becomes too high, there will definitely be a cause to worry. So, one important aspect of cardiovascular care is in the management of physiological pressures, especially the blood pressure.
Before the advent of medical devices like the V-LAP, there have been various methods that have been in place that help cardiac clinical professionals measure cardiac physiologies, in this case, pressures. Ranging from the use of a stethoscope, an echocardiogram, a form of cardiac ultrasound, and the more complex method used in interventional cardiology involves passing a thin catheter into the heart through a blood vessel to enable measuring of the chamber pressures possible – called a cardiac catheterization.
Most of these methods are either not very accurate – in terms of providing more detailed information about intrinsic physiology, while some can only be carried out in a hospital setting and are very expensive – the average cost of a cardiac catheterization will blow your mind away and the team required to perform procedures such as this is made up of more than one, it’s a highly specialised team.
The V-LAP is regarded as the world’s first internal [in-heart] microcomputer that can help clinicians monitor on a regular basis the cardiac pressures of patients who are either at risk of developing a cardiac failure or keep an eye on patients who are already suffering from heart failure, thereby reducing the stress of either having to come to the hospital at regular intervals or reduce the need for patients to have a “cardiac-cath”, [to monitor intrinsic pressures], which is more stressful and very expensive.
The V-LAP is inserted into the heart, using a conventional cardiac catheterization procedure – a minimally invasive procedure, and it is implanted into the intraarterial septum – the wall that separates the two atrial chambers.
The internal microcomputer is wirelessly connected to an external belt the patient wears, which has a user friendly button the patient can press to take readings which are transmitted to the cloud and made available to the cardiologist or cardiac clinicians who are able to interpret these readings that come in wave forms.
This remote monitoring gives cardiac clinicians the opportunity to keep studying patients data over a long period of time and quickly detect any forms of anomaly that may arise over a course of weeks or months and quickly move into action, designing appropriate interventions [pharmacological or inviting patients over for a physical and more thorough check-up] and in the process save more time, resource and even life.
A.I algorithms can read and interpret these readings and make suggestions based on ‘thousands’ of data that have been analysed.
“We desperately anticipate to see devices that can also remotely monitor the physiological conditions of coronary blood vessels, making intervention faster and reducing morbidity and mortality that occur due to heart failure or an heart attack caused by an occluded blood vessel”.
The Economic Perspective And What Research Has To Say
In the United States alone, about $351.3 billion dollars is spent annually on the treatment/management of Cardiovascular Diseases [directly and indirectly]. Here we can see the unbearable financial burden of Cardiovascular Diseases, which can be lowered with improved monitoring systems that help to improve early detection of morbidity, reduce mortality and improve management.
There is still a lot of research going on as regards the utilization of remote monitoring of patients with chronic diseases. The V-LAP technology is still under progressive clinical trials in countries like the UK, USA, and Israel, with a few patients already making use of this novel technology.
It sure will take some time for this device to gain the approval of The FDA and other governing body , but it is certain that this technology has come to stay.
The Minds Behind It
The duo recognized an unmet clinical need, a better way to monitor the intrinsic haemodynamic conditions of the human heart, and they started Vectorious, the company that is in charge of V-LAP.
They asked the question:
What if there is a way to harness technology so that we can have the most accurate and specific physiological indication available daily and remotely at home?
Innovation at its best. A problem is definitely going to be solved. We envision a future full of health care innovations that will provide safe and affordable care to patients and clients all over the world.
And Africa is a hotspot for health care innovations. We have the resources in both human and capital. I strongly believe that ideas like this can flourish here if the right processes are put into place.
What are your thoughts concerning this novel idea?