BEating Cardiac Arrest (BECA): Smartwatch-based Activation of the Chain of Survival for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest

Project: Research project

Project Details


Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is a major health problem and occurs in individuals of all ages, women and men, ethnicities and socioeconomic positions. The incidence of OHCA is approximately 17.000 per year in the Netherlands. All currently available systems to rescue OHCA victims depend on witnesses who act as the first step in the Chain of Survival by alerting dispatch centres and/or performing resuscitation and defibrillation with an automated external defibrillator (AED). At present, however, more than half of OHCA cases is unwitnessed and these victims have virtually no chance of survival.

Technology to detect OHCA, that can be worn permanently and that automatically alerts dispatch centres could save the lives of many unwitnessed OHCA victims and improve quality of life. This technology is therefore urgently needed. Moreover, the technology might also improve outcomes in witnessed OHCA situations as the chain of rescue is initiated earlier.

Our project targets the development of a wearable monitoring platform that enables automatic detection of OHCA and alerting of bystanders and dispatch centres. Key requirements of our proposed platform are 1) that it enables 24/7 monitoring of OHCA in a wide and diverse population; and 2) that it has high accuracy in the detection of OHCA.

A key enabler of the first requirement is that our solution is unobtrusive, not only from the physical point of view but also from the psychological point of view. To achieve this level of unobtrusiveness, our platform will build on an existing remote patient monitoring platform in the shape of a wrist-worn device (smartwatch) that measures motion and pulsatile blood flow via accelerometry and photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors, respectively.

As key enabler for the second requirement, cessation of the pulsatile blood flow in the wrist, which happens in case of OHCA, will be detected from the PPG. Additionally, lack of movement, which happens because OHCA victims lose consciousness immediately, will be detected from the accelerometers. By combining the absence of pulsatile blood flow with absence of movement and a failure to respond to stimuli, our solution will yield the required high accuracy in detection of OHCA and will trigger early alarms to emergency responders, for the first time providing reliable technological means to save lives of victims of unwitnessed cardiac arrest.

Tilburg University is involved together with the Amsterdam UMC Ethics department in the workpackage that focusses on acceptance of and compliance with the solution in all layers of society. This includes active involvement of end-users and emergency responders and addressing diversity (e.g. gender, ethnicity, age) among targeted populations of end-users. This work package will also deliver solutions on the ethical considerations of continuously monitoring a wide population of low-risk and/or high-risk users. We thereby ensure that a user-centered design is adopted in the final product.
Short titleBEating Cardiac Arrest
Effective start/end date1/08/221/04/25


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