The HeartCycle consortium will work to improve the quality of care for coronary heart disease and heart failure patients by developing systems for monitoring their condition at home and involving them in the daily management of their disease. These systems will comprise unobtrusive sensors built into the patient's clothing or bed sheets and home appliances such as weight scales and blood pressure monitors. The consortium aims to develop dedicated software that analyses the acquired data, and that can be programmed to provide feedback on the patient's health status, plus his or her adherence to prescribed therapies and progress towards achieving health status milestones. It also aims to develop mechanisms to report relevant data back to clinicians automatically so that they can prescribe personalized therapies and lifestyle recommendations.
Public and private partners from 18 research, academic, industrial and medical organisations from nine different European countries and China will team up in the project. HeartCycle will run for four years and has a budget of approximately 21 million euro, of which approximately 14 million euro will be funded by the European Union as part of the European Union 7th Framework Programme.
Cardiovascular disease kills around 1,9 million people every year in the European Union, with the associated annual health costs estimated at 105 billion euro. Around half of these deaths occur in people who have previously had a heart attack, most of whom will develop heart failure before they die. There are currently around 10 million heart failure patients in the European Union and it is one of the commonest medical reasons for hospitalization in adults. Finding better ways to manage and treat coronary heart disease and chronic heart failure is therefore seen as one of the most effective ways of reducing the human cost and financial burden of these debilitating conditions.
"The greatest challenge and opportunity for the management of long-term medical conditions is to help patients to help themselves", stated Professor John Cleland, MD, Head of the Department of Cardiology at the University of Hull, United Kingdom, past chairman of both the Working Group on Heart Failure of the European Society of Cardiology and of the British Society for Heart Failure and Chief Medical Officer of the HeartCycle project. "Investing directly in people who need help, and not just in services that do things to or for them, makes sense in terms of improved care, greater affordability and the effective deployment of scarce nursing and medical resources."
"By developing systems that remotely monitor heart patients and motivate them to adhere to treatment regimes and adopt beneficial lifestyles, we hope to improve the survival of people with heart disease as well as to contain the overall cost of care", stated Henk van Houten, senior vice president of Philips Research and head of the Healthcare Research programme. "The development of such systems can only be achieved efficiently via multi-disciplinary partnerships between hardware engineers, software engineers, textile manufacturers, industrial designers, clinical experts and health care providers, as is the case in the HeartCycle project."
The HeartCycle Consortium membership includes the following organisations: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece; Clothing Plus Oy, Finland; Centre Suisse d'Electronique et de Microtechnique Sa (CSEM), Switzerland; Empirica Gesellschaft für Kommunikations und Technologieforschung mbH, Germany; Faculdade Ciencias e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal; Fundación Vodafone España, Spain; Hospital Universitario Clínico San Carlos, Spain; Instituto de Aplicaciones de las Tecnologías de la Información y de las Comunicaciones Avanzadas, Spain; Medtronic Ibérica SA, Spain; Philips Electronics Nederland B.V., The Netherlands; Philips Research, Germany; Politecnico Di Milano - Dipartimento di Bioingegneria, Italy; Rheinisch Westfälische Technische Hochschule, Germany; T-Systems ITC Iberia SA, Spain; Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain; Chinese University of Hong Kong, China; University of Hull, United Kingdom; Valtion Teknillinen Tutkimuskeskus, Finland.
The earlier MyHeart project developed advanced telemonitoring technologies and service concepts to enable people to play an active role in maintaining their health. In the course of the MyHeart project, home-based disease management was identified as a potential opportunity for improving medical standards of care. The HeartCycle project aims to extend this disease management concept for specific patient groups with a focus on improving patient compliance to medication and lifestyle therapies.