TRANSFORM HF is committed to training the next generation of heart failure digital health leaders. As part of this commitment, our Trainee Awards support master’s, PhD, and postdoctoral students who are researching new technology or models of care to address inequities in heart failure care.
We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 Trainee Awards! Learn about the heart failure trainees and their projects below.
Wearable Textile-Based Remote System for Long-Term Lung Fluid Monitoring for a Pulmonary Congestion Population
Supervisors: Drs. Azadeh Yadollahi and Darshan Brahmbhatt
Ivana is developing a wearable technology to monitor flood buildup in the lungs, or pulmonary edema, which is a common symptom of worsening heart failure. She hopes that if patients and their clinicians are aware of edema at an early stage, there will be more time for changes in treatment to ultimately keep patients out of hospital and living well. Ivana’s system will be designed for continuous monitoring over an extended period of time, enabling healthcare providers to monitor the progression of pulmonary edema and make care decisions in real-time.
This monitoring system has the potential to reduce healthcare costs by enabling preventative treatment and thereby reducing hospitalizations. Additionally, the use of a wearable design makes the system comfortable and customizable for patients. Moreover, the proposed system is unobtrusive, unlike the current standard method for monitoring pulmonary congestion which requires an implantation procedure.
The end product of Ivana’s research will be a battery-powered, energy-efficient, compact, and lightweight device accompanied by software capable of accurately acquiring, processing, and wirelessly transmitting information to a third-party device for storage and further analysis.
The TRANSFORM HF Trainee Award will provide me with the resources needed to expedite the translation of my research into practical healthcare solutions. Together, we aim to have a significant impact on the quality of life of heart failure patients, reduce healthcare costs, and transform the way we manage this condition.
Developing and Validating a Textile Based Wearable to Manage Sleep Apnea in People with Heart Failure
Supervisors: Drs. Azadeh Yadollahi and Quynh Pham
Did you know ~50% of people living with heart failure also experience sleep apnea? This may be due to a gravitational overnight shift of fluid from the legs to the neck and lungs. Despite this high prevalence, there is a lack of accessible and user-centered solutions for diagnosis and monitoring of sleep apnea. Rather, it’s commonly assessed with in-laboratory or at-home polysomnography, which is uncomfortable, requires technical expertise, and has long waitlists; additionally, it fails to measure overnight changes in body fluid.
Delaram aims to develop and validate a smart textile that can collect physiological data to ultimately monitor fluid levels and sleep apnea in people living with heart failure. This technology will not only require less effort to use than polysomnography, but will also monitor fluid accumulation. Delaram believes this information will help us better understand the connection between sleep apnea and heart failure.
The results of this study could help facilitate optimum treatment for managing sleep apnea in people living with heart failure, leading to better health outcomes and improved quality of life.
This funding is precious to me. It’s tough to win scholarships and awards as an international student because of the fierce competition and lack of opportunities. TRANSFORM HF’s Trainee Award encourages me to research new approaches and models of care to address heart failure and inequities in care.
Medly Caretown: An equitable, culturally inclusive, and family-centered digital health
intervention to support patient-caregiver dyads living with heart failure
Supervisors: Drs. Quynh Pham and Lindsay Jibb
Technology has the ability to support healthcare delivery and improve clinical outcomes for people living with heart failure. However, these benefits are not experienced equally by all. Specifically, there is an increasing need for access to equitable healthcare in ethnic and aging groups.
An emerging model of disease co-management by patients and family caregivers (care dyads) is shedding light on a more ethnically inclusive and family-centered approach to heart failure care. Ting’s research aims to build upon this model by further developing a culturally inclusive digital health intervention for heart failure care dyads under Medly Caretown. In collaboration with diverse community partners and people with lived experience, she will develop and test the intervention.
Ting hopes that Medly Caretown will serve as a conceptual model to design and adapt family-centered interventions for improved healthcare services for the growing Canadian population of patients with chronic diseases. Her findings specifically will generate actionable and replicable knowledge to foster more equitable, resilient, and sustainable heart failure care.
This award will support me in the several phases of my research. I will leverage the TRANSFORM HF network to engage community partners and my internal Patient and Caregiver Advisory Council to ensure the delivery of patient-centered, equity-focused model of care.
A Wearable Diaper Sensor for Urinary Biomarkers of Pediatric Heart Failure
Supervisors: Drs. Xinyu Liu, Aamir Jeewa, and Craig Simmons
Heart and kidney health is a careful balancing act: Dysfunction of one organ often leads to the dysfunction of the other. In pediatric heart health, this balance is even more delicate.
Acute kidney injury occurs in 30-50% of pediatric individuals after cardiac surgery, necessitating ongoing monitoring. However, conventional monitoring of kidney function relies on blood biomarkers. Blood draws are challenging for pediatric outpatients and in remote communities, placing significant burden on families and caregivers. Urine-based biomarkers are a promising alternative to blood biomarkers, as samples can be easily collected. As such, diaper-based sensors could enable remote and proactive monitoring, improving health autonomy and patient family empowerment.
Existing diaper-based urine sensors have been poorly adopted because they fail to address user needs. In this project, Kevin will develop a wearable sensor for diapers to remotely monitor kidney function in pediatric patients recovering from heart surgery at home. The technology Kevin develops and the knowledge he generates through co-development with people with lived experience will support patient-centered digital health solutions to improve pediatric heart care.
Being involved in the TRANSFORM HF network will help me foster a more holistic overview in developing technologies for improving heart failure care. I am excited to learn from other researchers, trainees, clinicians, and people with lived experience to better address patient needs.