Introduction

Introduction

Piotr Augustyniak (AGH University of Science and Technology, Poland) and Ryszard Tadeusiewicz (AGH University of Science and Technology, Poland)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-080-6.ch001
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Abstract

This chapter summarizes new needs, new opportunities, new challenges, and new fields for development of innovative IT methods for permanent and ubiquitous cardiological monitoring. The main idea for new generation of telecardiological devices goes as follows: Bad heart always under permanent qualified observation, and every ill patient never without help—irrespective of moment of time and place on Earth.
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Introduction

In this book we describe a biotechnological system, discovered, designed, and developed by the staff of the Biocybernetic Laboratory at the AGH University of Science and Technology, Krakow, Poland. The system under consideration can help many people suffering from heart diseases. Using our system, the patient can be mobile and be safe at the same time. Let us describe the problem and propose our solution.

Until now the patient with a serious heart problem had to be under the continuous control of diagnostic equipment and under the supervision of medical personnel. It was not necessary to engage medical care experts on a full-time basis, but at least one qualified nurse had to be concerned about the results of heart parameter recordings (provided by electronic sensors and monitors) in order to make decisions in the case of emergency. With serious cardiac problems, such a model must be continuously applied according to the intensive care regime expecting a sudden event. Therefore, patients with serious heart problems, even those who were feeling well, are hospitalized and subject to permanent observation.

But there are many other patients suffering from cardiac diseases of moderate severity. Such a patient can return home, can work, can walk—but his or her heart must also be observed all the time. Even if the probability of a crisis is very small, its occurrence can be very dangerous. Therefore, these patients must be observed all the time, although this observation not need be overly intensive.

Permanent observation is easy in patients’ homes (by family members) and in stable workplaces (by coworkers). But when an ill person must travel, the problem becomes more complicated. Nowadays, people travel often for business and leisure. Modern businessmen, journalists, scientists, engineers, moviemakers, and many other professionals sometimes are called “contemporary nomads,” because traveling makes up a large part of their lives. If this form of activity concerns the person with a cardiac disease, mobile surveillance systems have the opportunity to play their role.

It is evident that during a journey and when staying in new places with new people around, the ill person can be exposed to several dangers. His or her heart can fail at any moment without any alerting symptoms, but in an alien environment nobody will notice and a sick person can die.

In such difficult situations the only solution that can be provided is through modern technology. Therefore, we formulated the project based on this phrasing:

Your heart is with you always and everywhere.
Take the monitoring device always and everywhere with your heart, expecting a failure!

We planned to design a system in which every heart at risk will always be under permanent qualified observation, and every ill patient will never be without help—irrespective of time and place. This goal was very ambitious, and we had to formulate and solve many problems of scientific, technological, and also medical natures before we could reach it.

After six years of research and development, described in detail in papers listed in the bibliography at the end of this book, we have a working prototype of such a system. Describing its structure, principles, and functions is main purpose of this book.

At the beginning we can stress that although the total system is large and complicated, the basic principles can be explained clearly in a few words. The first assumption is:

Every patient can carry a small and cheap electronic device called the PED. Depending on the preferred technology, it can be a personal handheld computer, a cellular phone, a business organizer, and so forth. The PED contains its own software, which can continuously interpret the patient’s heart activity, recorded with the use of wearable sensors, and help the bearer in case of emergency in various ways:

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