Cooper University Health Care’s Innovation Center has received a $70,000 grant from the New Jersey Health Foundation (NJHF) to study a new wearable heart monitor for the early detection of congestive heart failure.
The novel device, invented and developed over several years by Robert A. Hirsh, MD, a member of the Anesthesiology Department at Cooper and associate professor of clinical anesthesiology at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, has the potential to provide an “early warning” and pre-symptom diagnosis and prevention for those at risk of congestive heart failure.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death both in the U.S. and worldwide. Between 2014 and 2015, more than $219 billion was spent on diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in the United States. The direct domestic medical costs associated with congestive heart failure (CHF) alone is expected to reach $53 billion by 2030, with the majority of costs related to hospitalization.
“Congestive heart failure is complicated and expensive to manage. Unfortunately, there currently exists no definitive, non-invasive way to detect who may be at risk of CHF outside of a hospital setting well before they show symptoms when the disease could be potentially better managed,” said Dr. Hirsh. “So often, the medical community manages diseases after they present themselves. My motivation for developing this new device is to identify those at risk of CHF before it becomes a chronic condition. This will potentially lead to more optimal outcomes for patients as well as cost savings.”
While Electrocardiography (ECG) is a well-established and broadly useful method for diagnosing certain heart conditions, many heart conditions, such as CHF, are not detected by ECG alone, Dr. Hirsh explains. Separately, Seismocardiography (SCG) testing monitors the mechanical movement of the heart, but it alone cannot detect CHF.
Through his research, Dr. Hirsch discovered that by combining ECG and SCG monitoring through a small, non-invasive wearable device, physicians are able to collect and analyze data and obtain novel insights into efficient cardiac function well before a patient experiences CHF. This type of diagnostic information is currently only available in a snapshot taken through a 2-D echocardiogram, administered in a healthcare setting by a healthcare professional.
The relatively low-cost wearable device works by identifying subtle changes in the heart’s relaxation function (lusitropic myocardial function) in relation to its contraction function (inotropic myocardial function) on a beat-by-beat basis to assess myocardial well-being or pathology on a real time basis. Because of its relatively small size and portability, many more patients will be able to be screened on an outpatient basis without having to travel to a hospital. The device may also be useful for patients who live remotely from health care facilities or who have other barriers to receiving care.
To date, clinical proof of concept has been achieved in a large animal model as well as in a pilot clinical study using a custom research grade device. The grant funding will cover the cost of further studies involving subjects who are healthy, CHF patients, and at-risk populations.
“We are very excited to kick off our collaboration with Cooper University Health Care with Dr. Hirsh’s project. It has been a pleasure to work with Dr. Hirsh and the Cooper team, and we share in their commitment and passion leading towards the commercialization of this device,” said George F. Heinrich, M.D., Vice Chair and CEO of New Jersey Health Foundation. “We are hopeful that Dr. Hirsh’s device will save many lives through much earlier detection and prevention of congestive heart failure.”
“We are thrilled to be working with the NJHF to help develop and bring this promising new device to market,” said Neal Lemon, PhD, MBA, director of the Cooper Innovation Center, which was founded in 2022 to advance biomedical research and technologies developed by Cooper physicians and researchers. “It is a great example of how Cooper innovations are working to change medical practice and improve patient care.”
About Cooper University Health Care
Cooper University Health Care is a leading academic health system with more 8,900 employees including 1600 nurses, and more than 850 employed physicians. Cooper University Hospital is the only Level 1 Trauma Center in South Jersey and the busiest in the region. Annually, nearly two million patients are served at Cooper’s 635-bed flagship hospital, outpatient surgery center, three urgent care centers, and more than 105 ambulatory offices throughout the community. Cooper has been named as one of America’s Best Employers by Forbes for two consecutive years and was recognized as one of the top hospitals in New Jersey and as a top-performing hospital nationally in numerous specialty services by U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-2023 Best Hospitals annual survey.
The Cooper Health Sciences campus is home to Cooper University Hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper, and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. Visit CooperHealth.org to learn more.