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Smartphone app tracks heart conditions

Smartphone app tracks heart conditions: Healthcare researchers at the University of Wolverhampton are leading a new project to trial a newly developed app to benefit patients at New Cross Hospital.

Professor James Cotton at the University’s Research Institute for Healthcare Science (RIHS), in collaboration with Dr Nazish Khan at University Hospitals Birmingham is investigating whether care for patients with the heart valve condition, severe aortic stenosis can be improved using a novel smartphone app that tracks their symptoms and wellbeing.

Aortic stenosis is a very common clinical condition, often affecting the elderly, with over 10 per cent of 75-year-olds, having some degree of the disease. When severe, the valve stenosis impedes the flow of blood from the main pumping chamber of the heart to the rest of the body.

Treatment consists of valve replacement, either with open heart surgery or a catheter-based technique (TAVI). In patients with symptoms related to severe aortic stenosis, the mortality is high unless they receive timely treatment, at almost 4 per cent, per month in the UK.

Professor Cotton and Dr Khan developed the APRAISE-AS app in conjunction with a local West Midlands IT firm, B13.
The App allows patients to upload information regarding their symptoms, wellbeing and level of activity to a centrally held information portal, so that clinicians can react quickly if their symptoms deteriorate and offer timely heart valve surgery. It also has a number of educational resources embedded, to help patients better understand their condition.

The trial, named APRAISE AS, is being funded £250,000 by research for patient benefit (RfPB) grant from the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) and opened at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton last week.

The trial, coordinated by the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit and sponsored by the University of Birmingham will randomly assign 66 patients with severe aortic stenosis to either use the app plus standard care, or standard care alone.

Researchers hope that by patients directly communicating with the trial team via the app, lifesaving treatment will be delivered more quickly, and patients will feel more engaged with their care.

Professor James Cotton said: “This technology brings together novel technology and the important developing concept of patient-initiated follow-up (PIFU). Hopefully this approach will improve patients’ outcomes and also improve healthcare efficiency.”

If successful, the trial will form the basis of a National multi-centre study. The app-based approach lends itself to several other disease states and a number of future clinical trials will be developed by the Clinical Research Group at the University of Wolverhampton.

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