Background and overview

WECARMON (Wearable cardiorespiratory monitor) is a project funded by the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 745755, which is being developed in colaboration of the University of Zaragoza (Zaragoza, Spain) and the University of Connecticut (Storrs CT, USA).

The WECARMON’s main objective is to develop a novel system for monitoring patients suffering of cardiorespiratory diseases. This novel system will be based on a very comfortable wearable armband which can monitor some cardiorespiratory parameters during the patients’ normal life. Its innovative nature is based on two main tools: 1) a long-term (months) wearable ECG device which uses dry electrodes which causes no skin irritation and which are placed in a leadless armband, and 2) signal processing techniques for estimating respiratory rate and volumes from ECG which are robust against artefacts generated by movements during daily life.

This long-term wearable cardiorespiratory monitor has a wide range of applications, including monitoring of sleep, stress level, fitness level, and chronic respiratory patients. Among these applications, WECARMON will study the monitoring of chronic respiratory patients. Specifically, patients who are suffering obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), and patients who are suffering of chronic obstructive respiratory disease (COPD) or asthma.

OSAS is characterized by an interruption of the airflow to the lungs produced by an upper airways occlusion during sleep. Then, arterial oxygen saturation goes down across time and mechanical respiratory efforts are intensified. If these efforts are not enough to reopen the upper airways, the hypercapnia level evolves dangerously and an arousal is generated to reactive all the peripheral systems restoring respiration. These episodes could occur hundreds of times in a single night producing serious health implications. The Gold Standard procedure for OSAS diagnosis is polysomnography, which consist of an overnight recording using a high number of sensors, being quite involved and difficult to use in ambulatory scenario. In the last decade, application of different techniques for home sleep apnea monitoring has been extensively developed. Some of them are based on electrocardiogram and/or respiratory information derived from it. These alternatives could be applied using electrocardiogram recordings from the wearable armband, obtaining a very interesting device for OSAS screening.

An OSAS screening based on such a comfortable and wearable device would be an excellent alternative to the polysomnography, being more comfortable for the patient and economic for the society. Furthermore, depending on the results obtained when evaluating the armband device for OSAS screening, we could think of monitoring the patient during some weeks in order to assess the effectiveness of the treatment and to adapt it in case it is needed.

The other application on which WECARMON project will focus is monitoring of COPD and/or asthma patients. These patients are affected by destabilizations (or “exacerbations”) which makes them to seek medical help and often lead to their hospitalization. Exacerbations can start quickly (in minutes to hours) and they are one of the main causes of mortality among patients with COPD and asthma which are the two most common chronic respiratory diseases, affecting millions of children and adults. The wearable armband may allow us to early detect COPD/asthma exacerbations and lead to a better prognosis of the patient and a reduction of financial costs to society.

Featured publications

  • J. Lázaro, R. Bailón, E. Gil, Y. Noh, P. Laguna, K. H. Chon (2018), Pilot study on electrocardiogram derived respiratory rate using a wearable armband, Proceedings of the XLV International Conference on Computing in Cardiology, pp. 1-4, Maastricht, Netherlands, DOI: 10.22489/CinC.2018.054

  • J. Lázaro, S. Kontaxis, R. Bailón, P. Laguna, E. Gil (2018), Respiratory rate derived from pulse photoplethysmographic signal by pulse decomposition analysis, 40th Annual International Conference of the IEEE EMBS. Honolulu HI, USA, 2018 pp. 5282-5285, DOI: 10.1109/EMBC.2018.8513188



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 745755.