Eindhoven University of Technology: Dutch Heart Foundation supports TU/e research into smart watches

A project led by TU Eindhoven has received over 950,000 euros from the Dutch Heart Foundation for the development of smart watches that can detect cardiac arrest and alert emergency services. Many people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital do not have witnesses present to call 112. Technological solutions are key to save their lives. The project, a collaboration with Amsterdam UMC, Tilburg University, Philips, the Catharina Hospital and Stan, is led by TU/e researcher Rik Vullings.

Each year, 17,000 cardiac arrests occur outside the hospital. For many victims (about 60 percent, according to international research), this happens without anyone nearby to provide and call for help. However, adequate assistance within 6 minutes of a cardiac arrest is essential for survival.

The Dutch Heart Foundation is therefore honoring research that should lead to smartwatches that can detect cardiac arrest and alert emergency services. In addition to the TU/e project, a research project at the Radboudumc has also been awarded a grant. The total amount involved is 1.9 million euros.

The new smartwatches will use sensors that can register whether someone falls, for example, and sensors that can measure whether the heart is still beating in the smallest blood vessels in the skin. They will also be equipped with GPS technology. This will enable emergency services to arrive at the scene as quickly as possible, as well as the civilian first responders who are alerted via the resuscitation call system of HartslagNu.

Rik Vullings, researcher in the Signal Processing Systems research group at the department of Electrical Engineering: “This is an important social problem for which technological solutions can offer a solution. Precisely in situations where humans cannot call in help, technology can.” The smartwatches should be available after 3 years.

The researchers expect that this solution can be especially beneficial for women. They are more likely to suffer a cardiac arrest without a witness. This may be because women live alone more often than men, especially if they are a bit older. Research has also shown that women are less often resuscitated by bystanders. It is unclear why.

However, the watches are also expected to save time in cardiac arrests where witnesses are present.

The Heart Foundation took the initiative to get this research off the ground and brought together various parties. The goal is to find an innovative solution to increase the chance of survival in cardiac arrest without witnesses.

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