What do racing cars and the latest healthcare technologies have in common?

Modern F1 racing cars are networked, connected and intelligent machines with hundreds of sensors. These sensors provide billions of data points, which are analyzed and help cars outperform their competitors – just like Lewis Hamilton did in his spectacular victory at Silverstone!

But what does this have to do with better health care? Well, one technology that is changing the way healthcare is delivered is balistocardiography combined with artificial intelligence (AI).

Balistocardiography or BCG was developed in 1877 by JW Gordon which is inspired by seismology and was primarily developed to explore and monitor cardiac activity by incorporating sensors used in scales. But, it had its challenges and eventually faded from use. To top it off, the ECG was developed in 1903 and offered much better and reproducible results. But now, nearly a century later, BCG is making a comeback, powered by AI.

Relaunch of BCG in congruence with AI, today:

Currently, the need of the hour is continuous monitoring without compliance or extra effort – and contactless BCG has this capability, for a whole plethora of applications.

The balistocardiograph (BCG) is a measure of the ballistic forces generated by your heart. This means that it measures the downward movement of blood through your descending aorta and produces upward recoil, moving your body upward, ever so slightly, with each heartbeat. It is a non-intrusive method that helps produce a graphical representation of your body’s repetitive motions resulting from the sudden ejection of blood through your blood vessels with each heartbeat.

This technology is further advanced by combining ECG and BCG. An ECG measures the electrical activity of your heart and is used to detect problems including heart attacks, arrhythmias, etc. In the case of BCG, it is a non-invasive, contactless way to monitor your heart activity, by measuring the mechanical activity of your heart using piezoelectric crystals. And in the most nascent form of technology, these crystals can be placed under your bed and record mechanical activity like your heart’s movements, heartbeats, blood pressure, breathing pattern, and other fine and gross of the body. All of these mechanical signals can be filtered to obtain the necessary signals for almost any part of your body which can be recorded, analyzed and reported appropriately.

BCG is poised to replace invasive methods of cardiac measurements and may be a breakthrough in noninvasive monitoring. Add to that the use of algorithms, the internet of things, and artificial intelligence, doctors can create a protocol that can aid in the detection and analysis of heart rhythms, respiratory rate, abnormal sleep patterns and patterns. In addition, recorded BCG data can also detect patient worsening of heart failure, obstructive sleep apnea, Parkinson’s tremor earlier, not only detecting these signs earlier, but also to successfully prevent and treat these conditions, thus reducing the number of deaths.

Why did BCG disappear in the past:

After its discovery, BCG was the subject of intense research in the 1940s until the 1980s, until it disappeared. Here are some reasons for this:

  • There was a lack of standard measurement techniques, which led to no standardized protocol for interpretation.
  • A lack of understanding of the exact physiological origin of the BCG waveform.
  • High noise sensitivity
  • BCG was not able, at the time, to make an accurate clinical diagnosis of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris and coronary heart disease because it was not as specific.

But what really disrupted the use of BCG was the advent of non-invasive ultrasound and ECG techniques for cardiac and hemodynamic diagnosis.

Predictive Health — The Future of BCG and AI in Health:

The future is bright for BCG, especially when combined with AI. In fact, research into how BCG can be used to determine and possibly predict conditions such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, heart failure, respiratory failure, seizures, and a whole plethora other affections multiply.

In fact, studies have shown that combining the use of BCG with other diagnostic methods can also help doctors see how CVD progression and how the intervention works. The technology can also help chemotherapy patients and their treating physicians to assess the effectiveness of treatment and, more importantly, can be used to avoid cardiotoxicity and cardiovascular risk during cancer treatment.

Overall, the integration of ECG with BCG can be a game-changer. Imagine all the health data that can be collected and analyzed using machine learning algorithms – enabling healthcare to become predictive rather than reactive. With the advent of technology, the day is not far off. We can detect problems in advance, patients can be brought in on time, and disasters can be avoided. We all know that prevention is better than cure, but early detection can help achieve better outcomes and long-term results.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.


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