"Smart plaster" that listens to heart sounds can help save lives  

2008.09.19
Aalborg University has gained funding to develop a "smart plaster" that can record heart sounds and transmit them wirelessly to a computer for analysis and detection of possible early signs of heart disease
In April 2007, this website brought news of a novel screening technique to cut risk of coronary thrombosis that won the Medico Prize for two Aalborg University postgraduate students, Samuel Schmidt and Claus Graff.
 
They had developed signal processing software that could enable a digital stethoscope to hear a tiny sound produced by turbulent blood flow when arteries around the heart start to harden and narrow in the early stages of coronary artery disease (CAD), which leads to coronary thrombosis and contributes to the deaths of almost a quarter of all Europeans.
 
Morten Falck Larsen, chairman of the Danish medico industry association, clearly saw the potential health economic benefits of the new method, and remarked at the 2007 prize-giving ceremony: "The system can improve the life quality of patients by helping prevent a serious disease and saving lives."
 
Schmidt and Graff's original idea has now been developed and refined, with the stethoscope now superseded by a "smart plaster" applied to the patient's chest, which can record sounds with less stray noise and over a longer time than would be practical using a hand-held stethoscope, and transmit them wirelessly to a computer programmed with the algorithms to analyse the sounds for early signs of CAD.
 
The project has attracted DKK 7m (USD 1.36m) in financial support from the High Technology Fund, as well as the involvement of Coloplast, a Danish medico company with considerable technological know-how and expertise in adhesive medical products.
 
When the new smart plaster is ready to be tested, this will take place at Rigshospitalet, Denmark's national hospital in Copenhagen.

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