Innovate UK funds heart-monitoring smart garment project
KYMIRA Ltd will use an Innovate UK Advancing Precision Medicine grant for a project it hopes will help diagnose heart disease earlier, with the aim of preventing some of the 100,000 deaths from arrhythmia every year in the UK.
Through its Personalising Rhythm management using AI-enabled Clothing Technology with Integrated SEnsors (PRACTISE) project, KYMIRA in partnership with Imperial College London will further develop a new smart upper body garment that uses multiple electrocardiography (ECG) sensors. The garment has been designed to fully capture and accurately assess heart function in patients. The data collected will be analysed using artificial intelligence (AI) to aid diagnosis. The eventual goal is a medically compliant, fully automated diagnostic tool.
The challenge of diagnosing arrhythmia
Arrhythmia, or heart rhythm problems, affects more than two million people a year in the UK. People with severe heart conditions experience certain types of arrhythmia, which can cause sudden cardiac death. This happens to around 100,000 people in the UK every year, but some of these deaths could be avoided with earlier diagnosis.
Diagnosing arrhythmia quickly can be difficult because symptoms can be temporary, as can the changes that happen in the body during an episode. Long-term monitoring can identify these episodes, but patients dislike wearing unsightly, uncomfortable monitors worn for hours or days. They can also be put off by the invasive nature of implanted monitors. Both methods only record heart rhythm, even though simultaneous measurement of other factors is required for diagnosis. These factors include what a patient was doing when experiencing arrhythmia, the extent of the episode and the effect on the heart.
Devices currently in use are expensive, time consuming to fit and maintain across many patients, with recordings requiring interpretation that can be inaccurate even when analysed by expert clinicians. Although new wearable solutions are entering the market, such as ECG-patches and watches, accuracy is still low meaning healthcare systems, such as the NHS, quickly become inundated with false positive self-assessments and currently there is no existing solution that adds sufficient clinical context to significantly improve diagnostic accuracy.
There is an increasing appetite for wearable cardiac recorders that are non-invasive, comfortable and accurate, which provide timely diagnosis and appropriate, personalised treatment.
A wearable solution
KYMIRA, a company which creates technology-enabled garments, has been developing a proprietary medical smart garment monitoring platform that uses non-invasive continuous data-collection without interrupting patients’ activities.
Project partners at Imperial are already using cardiac-monitoring devices already available on the market, however, it is a struggle to continuously monitor accurate cardiac data, despite the multiple tools being used.
The PRACTISE project will navigate these challenges through a simple and practical garment for patients that offers continuous monitoring through a digitally-enabled diagnostic platform.
If successful, project outcomes will include a medically compliant cardiac smart garment system to diagnose transient arrhythmia episodes accurately and automatically in a way that works for both patients and clinicians. It is hoped the project will generate the clinical evidence needed for regulators to approve the garments use in the UK, Europe and the US.
Being able to remotely monitor cardiac functions through a non-invasive, safe and accurate wearable device will revolutionise the way healthcare is delivered to people with cardiovascular disease, particularly people with arrhythmia. The Advancing Precision Medicine grant from Innovate UK will be a great help to us in achieving this goal.
-Timothy Brownstone, Chief Executive Officer of KYMIRA
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