Researchers’ sensor system aims to help heart failure patients

NSW Smart Sensing Network

The 60,000 Australians diagnosed with heart disease each year could soon be helped by a non-invasive sensor system for the early detection and improved management of the serious condition.

By developing the sensor system called SaiiV, researchers at Western Sydney University and the University of Sydney are looking to reduce hospital admissions and readmissions of patients with heart failure.

A New Sensor-based Monitoring System for the Early Detection and Improved Management of Heart Failure project is being led by Professor Gaetano Gargiulo from the School of Engineering, Design and Built Environment at Western Sydney University.

He says the project will advance the SaiiV sensor system from prototype to product and complete a preliminary clinical evaluation. “At the core of SaiiV there is a novel sensor technology designed to morph with the body, which detects the small forces impressed to the chest wall by the beating heart and which distinguishes the movements of the cardiac parts, for example, valves and chambers,” Professor Gargiulo says.

The project is one of seven research and development projects which have secured funding from the NSSN Grand Challenges Fund this year and is being supported by industry partner Medical Monitoring Solutions.

Heart failure currently affects almost half a million Australians, with over 60,000 people diagnosed with the disease each year. Researchers know the prevalence of heart failure increases with age. In one study, heart failure was reported in 13.1 percent of a sample of 23,845 Australians aged 60 years and over. The prevalence is also estimated to be higher in the indigenous population. In one study which screened 436 indigenous adults, heart failure was diagnosed in 5.3 percent of cases, and 65 percent of these cases were previously undiagnosed.

Co-lead project Investigator Dr Anusha Withana is a senior lecturer in Human Computer Interaction in the School of Computer Science at the University of Sydney. ”We aim to use artificial intelligence to assist clinicians to detect critical cardiac events in the data and deliver personalised preventative care,” Dr Withana says.

The researchers say there are five types of heart failure monitoring systems available on the global market. However, none of these have the significant advantage of being non-invasive as the SaiiV sensor behind their proposed sensor system.

“Our system includes innovative, non-invasive sensors that are mounted on the body,” Professor Gargiulo says. “We are also designing an app that displays signals, key data/risk scores, and notifications from a clinical team about the patient’s care plan.”

The research teams will collaborate to devise the electronics and extract relevant metrics from the data recorded, and then analyse the resulting signals using state-of-the-art signal analysis and machine learning techniques. “There will be a cloud database for signals and physiological data, and a clinician portal will allow the care team to remotely access data and deliver personalised care plans to the patient based on data from the sensors,” Dr Withana says.

NSSN MedTech Theme leader Catherine Oates Smith says the project is significant given the high numbers of Australians who suffer from heart failure, particularly the indigenous population.

“The proposal seeks to improve on existing monitoring devices to measure key biometrics that are early indications of heart disease progression through non-invasive tests,” Ms Oates Smith says. “This project is a fine example of a NSSN Grand Challenge project due to its unique holistic solution, which includes the smart sensors, an app, cloud database, and the clinician portal,” Ms Oates Smith says.

The researchers hope the project outcomes will benefit people that are ageing as well as reduce the health and economic burden of heart failure.

/Public Release.