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Digital Ballistocardiograph New Technology
The Digital Ballistocardiograph
Geoffrey Houlton, MBChB
President and Chief Executive Officer, Heart Force Medical Inc.
Heart Force Medical Inc. (HFM) has invented and has patents pending for the digital ballistocardiograph (dBG™), a non-invasive medical device
that assesses cardiac function. The dBG is a recording of the motion of the lower sternum resulting from the movement of the heart during
each cardiac cycle (heartbeat). The movement (acceleration or force) is sensed by a tri-axial accelerometer aligned to the three principal axes,
processed digitally, and displayed with the acceleration amplitudes as the vertical axis and time as the horizontal axis. Measurement of
acceleration is expressed in milli-gravity (mG) units and time is recorded in milliseconds (ms). A single electrocardiograph (ECG) is sensed and
recorded simultaneously with the dBG. Preliminary evaluation has determined that a 10–30-second recording of the dBG waveform is sufficient
for a detailed analysis of cardiac performance. All data are displayed on a computer screen using HFM proprietary software.
Ballistocardiography, cardiac, electrocardiogram (ECG), performance, Heart Force, heart failure, ischemia, triage
Disclosure: Geoffrey Houlton, MBChB, is an employee of Heart Force Medical Inc.
Received: September 3, 2009 Accepted: September 18, 2009
Correspondence: Geoffrey Houlton, MBChB, President and Chief Executive Officer, Heart Force Medical Inc., #300 – 1727 West Broadway, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6J 4W6,
Canada. E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cardiovascular (heart) disease is the cause of more deaths in the heart disease. The ECG, a relatively quick test, is limited to an electrical
western world than all other forms of disease. In the coming years this assessment of the heart and does not provide any information about
problem is predicted to escalate as the majority of the ‘baby boomer’ the force of contraction. An echocardiogram provides an image of
generation will be well into retirement. As a result, technologies that sections of the heart but requires an ultrasound technician, and
improve the assessment of or aid in the detection of heart disease will is expensive and time-consuming. By contrast, the dBG assessment is
become increasingly important in patient monitoring and overall care. simple and straightforward: analysis of the waveforms offers timing of
Heart Force Medical Inc. (HFM) has applied recent advances in hardware cardiac events, force of contraction, and electrical activity and is
and software technologies, specifically tri-axial accelerometers, to completed in five minutes. Ultimately, HFM believes it could be used in
capture non-invasively the low-frequency vibrations created by cardiac any doctor’s office as part of a routine cardiac assessment. A
contractions. HFM is focused on re-establishing the medical science of pre-commercial dBG device has been tested on a volunteer
ballistocardiography (BCG) using accelerometer technology found in population. Its capabilities have been demonstrated favorably in
products such as the Nintendo Wii and the Apple iPhone. BCG will assist comparison with the echocardiogram. HFM has solved many complex
physicians in their assessment of a patient’s cardiac performance, issues related to hardware design, software development, signal
particularly related to timing events in the cardiac cycle. HFM’s product capture, and analysis of the complex cardiac waveforms. HFM’s
is a non-invasive medical device that assesses cardiac function by innovative technologies have resulted in numerous patent filings with
sensing forces generated by heart muscle contractions from a single the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as well as European and
place on the chest. The instrument uses a proprietary finely tuned Asian filings through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) process.
sensor placed on the patient’s lower sternum to capture the digital These patent applications provide considerable barriers to entry from
ballistocardiograph (dBG™). The dBG is then transmitted via Bluetooth™ potential competitors.
to a computer for analysis.
HFM estimates the dBG will have a significant impact not only on the
HFM’s technology presents a significant opportunity for physicians to assessment of cardiac diseases but also on healthcare costs. This
improve the assessment of patients with suspected heart disease. impact will be related to patient triage, and potentially, as it is a tool for
Currently, devices such as electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors and patient assessments, benefits will also be seen when the results are
echocardiograms are used in the identification and assessment of compared with more expensive diagnostic methods.
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