Patent published on November 2, 2023

Patent Promises HeartRhythm Monitor Could Make Detecting Heart Irregularities Easier

In recent times, technology has been a crucial aide to healthcare, assisting physicians in keeping a close tab on the health of patients even from afar, and lending a helping hand in preventing and managing critical health conditions. One such medical concern that has benefited from technological innovation is the monitoring of our heart's rhythm.

The conventional method of tracking our heart's electrical activity, electrocardiography (ECG), despite its accuracy, often falls short on account of convenience and longevity of operation. Not only are traditional wearable ECG monitors bulky and energy-demanding, their ability to accurately record heart waveforms drops dramatically during high motion activities or exposure to water. Heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation (AFib), which have a sporadic nature, often go undetected with the present-day ECG monitors. For example, silent AFib, an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of stroke and heart diseases goes largely undetected because of its infrequent occurrence, posing a serious health risk.

A recent patent, US20230346231A1, by the National University of Ireland, Galway attempts to solve this issue by proposing a new wearable gadget for long-term continuous heart rhythm monitoring. Its features outdo the current ECG monitors on many counts.

The patent describes a wearable, essentially a watch-like device, that can monitor your heart rate using a method called pulse oximetry — a non-invasive method that measures how much oxygen your blood is carrying by passing a light through the skin. The beauty of this patented device is that it can adjust how often it checks your heart rate depending upon certain activities or events. What's more, it also archives this heart rate data and manages its battery life so efficiently, it can function up to 90 days without needing a recharge!

Imagine being able to live undeterred, without the fear of missing out on an irregular heart rhythm. Individuals with a history of heart conditions could adventure, exercise, or relax in a pool without the worry of damaging their monitor or losing critical health data. This would also potentially aid healthcare professionals to diagnose irregularities quicker, reducing the risk of a stroke and thereby making healthcare more preventive than curative.

But remember, while this invention strives to make our lives easier, the patent is yet to transform into a product in the market. Its effectiveness at scale remains an open question until further research and approvals. The promising patents and their potential applications remind us, that while technology continues to push the boundary of healthcare, it remains a tool, and not a replacement, for professional medical care and advice.

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