COLUMBUS, Ohio – About 5.7 million adults in the U.S. suffer from heart failure, and because of a dangerous buildup of fluid in their lungs, more than half of those patients end up back in the hospital within six months. But researchers say a high-tech vest can help doctors monitor a heart patient’s symptoms remotely, which may prevent the need for rehospitalization.
“The major cause of readmission for heart failure patients is excess fluid in the lungs,” said Dr. William Abraham, Director of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center who is leading a randomized, clinical trial of the vest. “The vest allows us to see when the lungs are trending toward being too wet so a patient’s medication can be adjusted before they even notice any symptoms.”
The vest uses radar technology to “see through” the chest and accurately detect the amount of fluid in the lungs. A patient wears the vest for just 90 seconds a day, and the information collected is automatically uploaded to a cloud server. The patient’s cardiologist can review the data to determine if any treatment adjustments need to be made to restore the lungs to healthy fluid levels.
“This technology gives us absolute and actionable data of lung fluid content that we can use to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital,” Abraham said. “The fact that it is completely non-invasive and takes less than two minutes a day to use, allows patients to live a better quality of life with heart failure.”
The vest uses the same technology used by the military for things like “seeing through” walls before entering a building or searching through rubble for survivors after a natural disaster.