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Harnessing wearable data for cardiovascular health monitoring

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The increasing use of smart wearables provides opportunity to monitor cardiovascular health in daily life. In this talk, Peter Charlton will provide an introduction to wrist-worn wearables, covering the physiological and technical fundamentals. He will present promising clinical applications, focusing on detecting atrial fibrillation, and will provide directions for future research.

The first part of the talk will focus on the fundamentals of using wrist-worn wearables for cardiovascular monitoring. Most wearables which monitor heart rate do so by monitoring the photoplethysmogram (PPG) signal, an optical signal which measures the arterial pulse wave. The PPG is a rich source of information on cardiovascular health, being affected by both cardiac and vascular systems, and also influenced by respiratory and autonomic nervous systems. Peter will describe the physiological basis for the PPG , and the engineering techniques used to analyse and derive parameters from it.

The second part of the talk will focus on the potential clinical applications of wearables, drawing on real-life examples of how they could be used to improve health outcomes. Case studies from both the hospital and community settings will be presented, showing how wearables could provide early warning of acute deteriorations such as heart attacks, and be used for long-term monitoring of cardiovascular health. Peter will describe his plans to contribute to research on using wearables to detect atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm which increases the risk of stroke and is believed to be undiagnosed in several hundred thousand people in the UK.

Finally, Peter will highlight pressing directions for future research and clinical evaluation of wearables. He will conclude that the widespread use of wearables provides a new opportunity for cardiovascular health monitoring, but that further research is required to ensure wearable data can be used to inform clinical decisions both safely and robustly.

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This talk is part of the Bradford Hill Seminars series.

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