The heart of the matter

1 min read

Researchers from Imperial College London have received a £760,000 grant from the Wellcome Trust to develop a miniature sensor to monitor the hearts of people who have undergone heart operations or who have conditions that could lead to heart failure.

Scientists believe their implantable sensor could improve heart monitoring by providing a constant flow of information, enabling doctors to more accurately predict serious illnesses, improve the timing of operations to maximise their effectiveness and free the patient from regular visits to the hospital. The sensor is constructed from silicon and vibrates at a rate which varies according to the pressure inside the heart. Once at home, patients would wear a reader, which detects these vibrations and translates them into precise measurements. Patients would be able view their own readings at home via the reader, while doctors could take measurements by dialling up the reader via a mobile phone or by logging onto a secure internet site. The reader could also be set to automatically send alarms to the doctor if a patient’s heart reading reaches critical levels. Lead researcher, Professor Christofer Toumazou, from Imperial College London’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering, said: “The heart pressure sensor could transform the lives of people living with chronic heart problems and has the potential to revolutionise heart monitoring. At the touch of a few buttons a family doctor could dial up their patient’s heart history and plot pressure trends to better manage their condition and prevent the progression of heart failure.”