Revolutionary garment in the works to detect cardiovascular disease

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Reported by: Brittany Jeffers
Updated: 12/07/2012 9:24 am Published: 12/06/2012 9:14 pm

A new wearable garment could revolutionize the way cardiovascular and respiratory diseases are diagnosed and treated.

An Oklahoma State University research team is working on a garment prototype that could help physicians identify at-risk people early so they can begin treatment.

“We don’t want to wait for the heart attack, we want to detect disease when its a smoldering fire in a trash can as opposed to a house on fire,” said Dr. Bruce Benjamin, Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences at the OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa.

Dr. Benjamin is a lead investigator for the project, called Health Smart Garment technology. The garment will integrate electrodes into a comfortable garment that can be worn by a patient outside of their physician’s office.

“Early detection and a heart attack never occur,” said Dr. Benjamin.

Dr. Benjamin told FOX23 the garment could aid in the detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, respiratory diseases and disorders such as sleep apnea and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The garment is designed to measure signals from the body like blood pressures, heart rate and respiration. The data is measured by electrodes and logged and tracked by computers.

“It creates a signature or a fingerprint,” said Dr. Benjamin, “It turns out, that when you are healthy there are certain patterns, and as you become sick, the signature changes.”

The team of researchers says the goal with the new technology is to identify disease before patients know that they are even at risk.

The project is part of collaborative effort with biomedical researchers, industrial engineers, textile scientists and business consultants from OSU’s Tulsa and Stillwater campuses.

“A lot of innovative and collaborative groups came together to try to create alternative solutions to medical problems,” said post doctoral associate, Dr. Brek Wilkins.

Dr. Benjamin says the cardiovascular disease is a serious problem in Oklahoma and this new technology can help be part of the solution.

“What we need to do is identify the citizens that are at risk and do something for them before it is going to cost them a lot of money.”

The team received grants from the National Science Foundation and the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology.

Dr. Benjamin says he hopes to have the product on the market in 18 months following FDA approval.

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