Smart shirt can save lives

Atrial fibrillation can cause stroke and the risk of atrial fibrillation and other heart arrhythmias increases with increasing age. A smart shirt with built-in electrodes that detects atrial fibrillation is now being tested at BTH.

As the population grows older, the proportion of persons with atrial fibrillation (AF) or other cardiac arrhythmia increase. About 30 percent of the persons affected by stroke today suffer from AF. The increasing number of persons with AF poses a challenge for healthcare services and many people suffer from AF without having any symptomes. In other words, there is every reason to try to detect AF in time.

-One way of increasing the discovery of AF would be to screen people over a certain age, and discussions are going on today if screening of the heart is to be introduced and, if so, from what age. But everything is a matter of resources, says Terese Lindberg, researcher at the Department of Health at BTH.

Now, the BTH scientist tests a shirt with embedded electrodes that transmits data to the physician via the mobile network. The shirt can be used to make a long-term measurement of ECG and is a convenient way to make the measurement.

-The shirt would be a good screening tool and we would discover more people with AF. Thus, the shirt would save both lives and increase people’s quality of life, says Terese Lindberg.

At present, about 20 seniors have tested the shirt – without electrodes – and they are positive. During the spring, the project will continue; then hundreds of people will test the shirt with electrodes. The result will then be compared to a traditional ECG test.

Terese Lindberg´s thesis: Arrhythmias in Older People: Focusing on Atrial Fibrillation. Epidemiology and impact on daily life.

12 January 2018