Early warning system for cardiac patients
9 September 2008
Latvian company Integris Ltd, has developed an inexpensive, real-time
heart activity monitor for personal use. The device is small enough to
be worn continuously and can monitor both heart activity and the
patient's physical activity and alerts the patient of abnormalities.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Europe and early
diagnosis is essential to save lives. Monitoring the heart’s rhythm and
electrical activity in real time using an electrocardiogram (ECG)
provides vital information about abnormalities and gives clues to the
nature of a problem. Some cardiac conditions need long-term monitoring,
which is inconvenient for patients as it requires them to be away from
their everyday environment for indeterminate periods of time.
Six years ago, Integris Ltd, a specialist in the development of
mobile wireless telemedicine ECG recording devices, came up with the
concept of an inexpensive, real-time heart activity monitor for personal
use. Initially, the wireless technologies available were not a practical
option for the device Integris had in mind, but when hybrid chips came
onto the market EUREKA project E! 3489 Heart Guard was born.
Heart Guard system comprises a lightweight, simple to use, matchbox-size
device with five electrodes that are strategically placed on the
wearer’s chest. The wireless device transmits data in real time directly
to the patient’s pocket computer or desktop PC for instant
interpretation by the system’s unique software.
The low-cost device is discreet enough to be worn 24 hours a day,
recording, analysing and reporting not only the rhythm and electrical
activity of a patient’s heart but also the physical activity and body
positions, as they go about their daily life.
"Effectively, it is an early warning system," explains Juris Lauznis,
Director of Integris, the project’s lead partner. ‘If Heart Guard
detects a problem, patients are alerted by means of vibration or a
buzzer, prompting them to check their PC for further information and
advice. At the very least, the device will help to monitor and manage a
patient’s condition — and it could even save a life.’
Currently Heart Guard is being developed for home use only, with
patients monitoring their own condition and only contacting a doctor or
hospital if the system identifies a cause for concern. Heart Guard also
has applications in a number of other areas, including telemedicine,
sports medicine, patient rehabilitation following cardiac surgery or a
heart attack and as a low-cost ECG monitoring system in hospitals and
clinics with limited budgets.
With the 30-month project completed and clinical trials of the
prototype successfully concluded by Kaunas Medical University’s
Institute of Cardiology, the Lithuania Academy of Physical Education and
the Research Institute of Cardiology at the University of Latvia, the
next steps are to satisfy the EU’s strict compliance requirements for
medical devices and then source a company to manufacture and distribute
If successful, the company says the first commercial Heart Guard
devices could be on the market and saving lives by the end of 2008 or