OSLO, NORWAY: To support low-cost, continuous electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) heart monitoring, a clinical-grade wireless cardiac monitor is now commercially available from British medical-services specialist Isansys Lifecare. The HRV011 is similar to a bandage strip that adheres to the patient (see figure). It promises to analyze the ECG signal of every heartbeat with four to five times more detail than that provided by a wired ECG monitor. From this data, an algorithm running in an integral ARM Cortex-based microcontroller can calculate key cardiac parameters.

The system uses Nordic Semiconductor's Nordic nRF24AP2 ANT chips. Thanks to those chips' efficient performance and their support of the ultra-low-power ANT wireless protocol, the LifeTouch HRV011 can achieve battery operating life to 100 hours from a CR2032 coin-cell battery with continuous usage conditions. The system also offers high interference immunity in 2.4-GHz RF operating environments.

According to estimates that he has seen, Isansys CEO Keith Errey believes that nearly one in three patients who are discharged from intensive-care wards will suffer a relapse of some kind. Commenting on the LifeTouch HRV011, Errey says, "Until now, there has been no low-cost solution to this problem. And in the US, many major medical insurers are saying that from next year on, they will start treating many re-admissions as a failure on the part of the hospital (so they will not be liable for any further emergency-room costs). Clearly, our solution, which is commercially available now, could not be more timely."