"Effectively, it is an early warning system," Juris Lauznis, director of Integris, the project's lead partner, said in a statement. "If Heart Guard detects a problem, patients are alerted by means of vibration or a buzzer, prompting them to check their computer 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."
The Heart Guard system is a lightweight, matchbox-size device with five electrodes that are placed on the wearer's chest. The wireless device transmits data in real time directly to the patient's pocket computer or desktop computer for instant interpretation by the system's software.
The low-cost device is discreet enough to be worn 24 hours a day, recording, analyzing and reporting the rhythm. The system is being developed for home use with patients monitoring their own condition and only contacting a doctor or hospital if the system identifies a cause for concern.
If the European Union's requirements are satisfied, the first commercial heart Guard could be available in 2009.