See in Trends Tendances – Media Planet – 21/12/2022
Affecting more than 60 million people worldwide, heart failure suffers from late diagnosis and, as far as health professionals are concerned, a lack of resources to ensure proper follow-up. Thanks to the surge in e-health, a technology from outer space is set to revolutionise cardiology in the coming years.
Diagnosing heart failure requires time-consuming and costly techniques that are simply prohibitive for some populations around the world. Failure to take action to improve cardiac health care threatens to increase the economic burden of this condition on our health care systems. In Belgium, 200,000 patients suffer from heart failure. In the United States, 30 billion dollars are spent annually on the treatment of heart failure. And the projections are dramatic. The World Health Organisation (WHO) speaks of a heart failure epidemic.
Early diagnosis is essential
Shortness of breath and exhaustion on exertion are among the first common symptoms of the disease, despite the fact that the disease may already be at an advanced stage. The diagnosis is therefore often made late. For the patient, there is an unconcerned assumption that respiratory function has little to do with heart function. For a general practitioner, the warning signs of heart failure are not always obvious. Patients are then usually treated in the emergency room, with a heart that is already structurally impaired. Medication helps to prevent further deterioration, but certainly does not help to return the heart to full health. “If we really want to give patients every chance, we must intercept this pathology as early as possible,” insists Pierre-François Migeotte, a Physician and Doctor of Science in Physiology.
Bringing space technology to our hearts
Developed more than twenty years ago to help astronauts monitor their heart function in space, cardiology research has yielded cutting-edge technology suitable for any patient wishing to take back control of the health of their heart. “Connected watches and other cardiac measurement devices do not allow heart failure to be diagnosed,” continues Pierre-François Migeotte, “to do that, we need to be able to observe the cardiac mechanics, i.e. the speed of blood ejection from the heart to the aorta.”
The doctor is also co-founder of HeartKinetics, a company that works in the field of digital health and develops technology based on artificial intelligence and the use of motion sensors that every smartphone is now equipped with: “We all have accelerometers and gyroscopes in our pockets without knowing it. These sensors count our steps on a daily basis, but with the right configurations, they will soon enable everyone to detect the micro-vibrations caused by heart contractions,” explains Pierre-François Migeotte.
Using the dedicated KINO.cardio application, which records the patient’s data and can transfer it to the specialist, the smartphone placed on the chest analyses the speed of blood ejection, which is translated into kinetic energy, the energy carried by any moving body. “We have trained an artificial intelligence system based on thousands of heartbeat recordings to recognise the characteristics of heart failure and help make an early diagnosis. I sometimes describe our technology as the Shazam of the heart”.
The technology is still in the clinical validation phase. “These regulatory processes are incredibly long, especially in Europe. The first marketing step of the system will target chronic heart failure patients so that they can monitor their condition from home. Of course, our goal is to use the KINO® technology much more widely to enable everyone to detect the warning signs of heart failure.”
“At the same time, we must continue with prevention, because given our ageing societies, lifestyles that do not always encourage physical activity, and obesity, which is still a major health problem, the development of heart failure will be a crucial public health issue in the decades to come.”
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