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Remote heart monitoring: Making heart health mobile

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Dr Sekhar Chennupati, CEO and founder, Vigocare on the benefits of remote heart monitoring systems especially during the current pandemic, as people suffering from cardiovascular ailments are considered high-risk patients and should be encouraged to avoid physical hospital visits

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) have plagued India for decades and according to a survey conducted by the World Health Organization in 2016, 1.7 million Indians die due to cardiovascular ailments every year. The prevalence of CVDs is estimated to be 54.5 million people with one in four deaths because of CVD. With more young adults developing cardiovascular ailments, it is vital to make heart health a priority that too in a country where we have about 5000 cardiologists only serving 1.3 billion population.

Moving with time, technology has transpired through exceptional advancement and has become incredibly immersive and disruptive. These disruptions and developments in technology have enabled healthcare professionals to have constant access over their patients’ health data and patterns. The increase in cardiovascular diseases and associated complications has given prominence to remote heart monitoring systems. Unlike their bulkier predecessors, heart monitoring systems have now become compact, wireless and offer complete mobility to consumers. Modern remote heart monitoring platforms provide healthcare professionals and doctors with a solution that is clinical grade yet, no capex, portable, sleek, hassle-free, and consumer-centric.

Remote heart monitoring systems deploy biosensors to capture vitals like ECG and heart rate. Reliable platforms like Vigocare utilise a two lead heart monitoring system which helps the healthcare provider in assessing the cardiac rhythm accurately. While lead I monitors the rhythm, lead II simultaneously gives a precise view of the P wave in order to efficiently monitor, and read cardiac rhythm and activity. The wireless biosensors capture 99.3 per cent of the analysable ECG data as against 83 per cent of data from traditional wired devices because of the noise produced by the wires. The use of AI helps in banking the data on cloud systems, further improving and customising diagnosis, consultation and enabling action-oriented care systems. The portability and ability to sync with smartphones, has made remote heart monitoring devices desirable and beneficial.

Patients experiencing symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, bloating, and chest pains are most benefitted from such technologies. Remote monitoring care platforms equip clinicians to monitor their patients round the clock and help them in taking immediate action, in case of an emergency. Patients with long-term issues like blood pressure, hypertension and diabetes can also be assisted by remote heart monitoring devices. These devices successfully help in detecting arrhythmias, irregular heartbeats and are recommended for patients with pacemakers and a history of CVD.

In lieu of the current pandemic, remote patient monitoring should take precedence over physical hospital visits as people suffering from cardiovascular ailments are considered high-risk patients and are encouraged to avoid physical hospital visits. Studies show that patients suffering or recovering from COVID-19 are at a greater risk of developing heart-related complications that could potentially be fatal. Recent studies published in JAMA Cardiology states that COVID-19 can potentially injure the heart and cause heart failure, or lead to patients developing long-term heart diseases. The risk of coinfection substantially elevates the patient’s risk of developing heart disease and the probable cause for it is the lack of oxygen going to the heart due to COVID-19 weakening the lungs.

Digitally empowered healthcare is the need of the hour, and remote care platforms provide patients with the convenience of being able to subscribe to qualitative and quantitative healthcare from the comfort of their homes. Connected care platforms are user friendly and feature mobility ensuring safe and contactless communication. The biosensors are easy to sync with the mobile phone through an app and requires the patient to place biosensor on the chest area. The patient vitals (ECG, HR) are recorded through this application and uploaded on the cloud for analysis using Artificial Intelligence based algorithms. The reports are generated digitally and made available for the patient on the mobile app and on the dashboard for the doctors that allows them to make treatment decisions.

With the emergence of COVID-19, e-health has come to the forefront. It has become the unsung hero of the battle against the global pandemic which has set into motion the course of a new normal. The new course is the stepping stone for innovative developments in health tech, remote patient management and will help the healthcare providers in detecting early on signs and emerge with preventive measures to avoid fatalities.

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