Unobtrusive Contactless Cardiac Monitoring for Telemedicine and Ambient Assisted Living

Andres Lorenzo Bleda1, Rafael Maestre Ferriz1, Arcadio Garcia Alberola2
1CETEM (Technologic Centre of Region de Murcia), 2Hospital Universitario Virgen de la Arrixaca


Abstract— During the last decades there has been a rapidly growing elderly population, and with it, the number of patients with chronic heart-related diseases has exploded. Many of them (e.g. congestive heart failure, some types of arrhythmia…) require a close medical supervision imposing a big burden to healthcare costs in most western economies. Telemedicine is clearly emerging as the real viable solution for health care to become sustainable by enabling medical monitoring at home without direct professional help, which would greatly reduce assistance costs. Specifically, continuous or frequent ECG monitoring as an important tool in the follow-up of many of these patients. Most people, and the elderly in particular, are reluctant to use unfamiliar monitoring devices, especially if that involves non-trivial measurement procedures, such as placement of electrodes in chest, or long measuring times. A cardiac monitoring device that requires no set-up or electrodes is highly desirable and of great value to those patients. Moreover, if that monitoring is always on and happens without the user even noticing it, it will remove all possible barriers to user acceptance, while maximizing monitoring time. One such solution is researched in this work. Electric-field sensors have been integrated into the backrest of an armchair. These sensors are shown to have enough sensitivity to monitor the cardiac electrical activity without direct contact with the user’s skin under certain conditions. This paper contains the details of the experimental studio and final test results. A comparative discussion against traditional ECGs, as well as the merits of the new approach are also presented. Uses with great potential (such as prevention) for regular elderly users within AAL (Ambient Assisted Living) Systems are also discussed.