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Health Tech Forward 2022: What’s next for preventive cardiology?

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João Apura from Kilo Health took to the stage at Health Tech Forward, where he discussed the four different spaces in the cardiovascular landscape – and the future of preventive cardiology….

Kilo Health, the host of Health Tech Forward 2022, is an investor and creator of more than 15 global digital health products. João Apura is the CPO at Cardi.Health, and took to the stage to discuss in detail the future of preventive cardiology – and the role of innovation in future heart health. 

Preventive cardiology: the wearables era

Speaking to the crowd, João explained the importance of the “fist sized” power house which beats 100,000 times a day to keep us alive. 

With 18 million people losing their lives each year to cardiovascular-related diseases, and one in three global deaths being caused by heart diseases, the tech innovation which can support and prevent disease is undeniably a welcomed presence. 

The rise of the “wearables” era, says João, is part of a global tech revolution which is yet to make its mark on the world. 

He said: “At around $555B – cardiovascular issues are estimated to be the most expensive conditions to treat.

“I  believe we live in this new wearable era which gives us so many ways to help us monitor our health. Tracking through wearables gives us a say, and gives us a chance to flip this around.”

The big four on the cardiovascular landscape

The future of cardio health through health tech comes down to, says João, four main areas: sound, rhythm, function and structure.

1 – Sound

Electronic tattoos developed by the University of Illinois are designed to cling to the skin and measure electrical activity from the body. The idea is they will allow doctors to diagnose and monitor health conditions in a way which is non-invasive. 

2 – Rhythm

With rhythm, tech focuses more on pulse and heart rates. João continued: “The ability to have 24/7 tracking actually makes wearables a portable diagnostic tool – within certain limits. 

“Also, we are seeing more and more people purchasing blood pressure devices to track from home. This is a major shift.”

João pointed out that pulse wave analysis (PWA) – a new tech which combines PPG sensors and machine learning, will us to understand the pulse’s shape and extract blood pressure values. 

Smaller and imperceptible sensors  

The future will prove to be smaller and “almost imperceptible” sensors. João added:”We will have these tiny sensors with us in the future, not as big as a watch. We will, I believe have digital tattoos in the future, for the same purpose.”

3 – Function

The future holds a “huge shift” between what’s available in the clinical setting and what’s available for patients. 

He continued: “Patients will have better access to AI devices, and we will reach a point where the devices will notify patients way before the expected normal health event – this will be very interesting to see in the future.”

It was pointed out how Apple Watch introduced its own ECG-measuring and irregular heart rhythm notification feature in 2018, and currently supports AFib history.

Additionally, AliveCor’s Kardia – an FDA approved medical grade ECG recorder that can detect AFib with high sensitivity. 

4 – Structure 

The last of the big four was structure. Using AI, Google researchers predicted cardiovascular risk factors just by looking at the eye, e.g. age, gender, smoking status, blood pressure and major adverse cardiac events. 

It was able to predict those who were non diabetic, or even a non-smoker. 

João continued: “all predictions which were on point. Interesting results which are powered by AI based on a simple snapshot of your eye!

“We can look inside our bodies and extract information that was never possible in the past.

The future is “personalised, affordable, and accessible”

He concluded: “The future will be personalised, affordable and accessible. 

“It will be predictive. I see it that patients can enrol in tailored, personalised programs which start from a consultation and lead to a structured journey that they can enrol to lower their cardiovascular risks and improve their overall wellbeing.”

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