Wireless sensor for sleep apnea and heart attacks

By Brian Dolan
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CorventisThe FDA recently approved a 15-centimeter wireless sensor that aims to reduce hospitalizations by automating early detection of heart failure. The waterproof sensor is attached to the patient's skin and transmits data to a mobile phone or similar device in the patient's pocket. The system monitors heart and respiration rates, patient activity, and accumulation of body fluid. The data is then sent to servers and run through algorithms that detect anomalies and notify physicians if a patient needs care.

San Jose-based start-up, Corventis, is currently marketing one version of the technology. Scripps Health Eric Topol demonstrated the Corventis system during his keynote address at the CTIA conference earlier this month

Topol said one unique characteristic of the Corventis solution is its ability to monitor fluid levels in a patient's body through its impedance detector, which measures buildup of body fluid through indirect electrical measurement. That can serve as a proxy for built up fluid levels in the lungs, which leads to shortness of breath and puts pressure on pulmonary arteries. That threatens to cause heart failure and may lead to hospitalization to remove fluid.

Corventis' system is currently undergoing a clinical trial to determine how well the device predicts heart failure. The company is also trying to determine if the system can accurately diagnose sleep apnea through changes in respiration and blood oxygen levels -- a future version of the device will include a sensor for blood oxygen. Thirdly, the company wants to determine if the device can predict imminent heart attacks by analyzing subtle changes in heart rate and rhythm. That trial is set to begin later this year.

Finally, another Corventis sensor, still under review by the FDA, hopes to capture more precise heart-rhythm disturbances in an effort to detect arrhythmias associated with stroke risk.

Read more over at Technology Review.