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A smartphone’s camera and flash could help people measure blood oxygen levels at home

When we breathe in, our lungs fill with oxygen, which is distributed to our red blood cells for transportation throughout our bodies. Our bodies need a lot of oxygen to function, and healthy people have at least 95% oxygen saturation all the time.

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Newswise — First, pause and take a deep breath. 

When we breathe in, our lungs fill with oxygen, which is distributed to our red blood cells for transportation throughout our bodies. Our bodies need a lot of oxygen to function, and healthy people have at least 95% oxygen saturation all the time.

Conditions like asthma or COVID-19 make it harder for bodies to absorb oxygen from the lungs. This leads to oxygen saturation percentages that drop to 90% or below, an indication that medical attention is needed. 

In a clinic, doctors monitor oxygen saturation using pulse oximeters — those clips you put over your fingertip or ear. But monitoring oxygen saturation at home multiple times a day could help patients keep an eye on COVID symptoms, for example.

In a proof-of-principle study, University of Washington and University of California San Diego researchers have shown that smartphones are capable of detecting blood oxygen saturation levels down to 70%. This is the lowest value that pulse oximeters should be able to measure, as recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The technique involves participants placing their finger over the camera and flash of a smartphone, which uses a deep-learning algorithm to decipher the blood oxygen levels. When the team delivered a controlled mixture of nitrogen and oxygen to six subjects to artificially bring their blood oxygen levels down, the smartphone correctly predicted whether the subject had low blood oxygen levels 80% of the time.

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The team published these results Sept. 19 in npj Digital Medicine.

“Other smartphone apps that do this were developed by asking people to hold their breath. But people get very uncomfortable and have to breathe after a minute or so, and that’s before their blood-oxygen levels have gone down far enough to represent the full range of clinically relevant data,” said co-lead author Jason Hoffman, a UW doctoral student in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. “With our test, we’re able to gather 15 minutes of data from each subject. Our data shows that smartphones could work well right in the critical threshold range.”

Another benefit of measuring blood oxygen levels on a smartphone is that almost everyone has one.

“This way you could have multiple measurements with your own device at either no cost or low cost,” said co-author Dr. Matthew Thompson, professor of family medicine in the UW School of Medicine. “In an ideal world, this information could be seamlessly transmitted to a doctor’s office. This would be really beneficial for telemedicine appointments or for triage nurses to be able to quickly determine whether patients need to go to the emergency department or if they can continue to rest at home and make an appointment with their primary care provider later.”

The team recruited six participants ranging in age from 20 to 34. Three identified as female, three identified as male. One participant identified as being African American, while the rest identified as being Caucasian.

To gather data to train and test the algorithm, the researchers had each participant wear a standard pulse oximeter on one finger and then place another finger on the same hand over a smartphone’s camera and flash. Each participant had this same set up on both hands simultaneously.

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“The camera is recording a video: Every time your heart beats, fresh blood flows through the part illuminated by the flash,” said senior author Edward Wang, who started this project as a UW doctoral student studying electrical and computer engineering and is now an assistant professor at UC San Diego’s Design Lab and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“The camera records how much that blood absorbs the light from the flash in each of the three color channels it measures: red, green and blue,” said Wang, who also directs the UC San Diego DigiHealth Lab. “Then we can feed those intensity measurements into our deep-learning model.” 

Each participant breathed in a controlled mixture of oxygen and nitrogen to slowly reduce oxygen levels. The process took about 15 minutes. For all six participants, the team acquired more than 10,000 blood oxygen level readings between 61% and 100%.

The researchers used data from four of the participants to train a deep learning algorithm to pull out the blood oxygen levels. The remainder of the data was used to validate the method and then test it to see how well it performed on new subjects.

“Smartphone light can get scattered by all these other components in your finger, which means there’s a lot of noise in the data that we’re looking at,” said co-lead author Varun Viswanath, a UW alumnus who is now a doctoral student advised by Wang at UC San Diego. “Deep learning is a really helpful technique here because it can see these really complex and nuanced features and helps you find patterns that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.”

The team hopes to continue this research by testing the algorithm on more people.

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“One of our subjects had thick calluses on their fingers, which made it harder for our algorithm to accurately determine their blood oxygen levels,” Hoffman said. “If we were to expand this study to more subjects, we would likely see more people with calluses and more people with different skin tones. Then we could potentially have an algorithm with enough complexity to be able to better model all these differences.”

But, the researchers said, this is a good first step toward developing biomedical devices that are aided by machine learning. 

“It’s so important to do a study like this,” Wang said. “Traditional medical devices go through rigorous testing. But computer science research is still just starting to dig its teeth into using machine learning for biomedical device development and we’re all still learning. By forcing ourselves to be rigorous, we’re forcing ourselves to learn how to do things right.” 

Additional co-authors are Xinyi Ding, a doctoral student at Southern Methodist University; Eric Larson, associate professor of computer science at Southern Methodist University; Caiwei Tian, who completed this research as a UW undergraduate student; and Shwetak Patel, UW professor in both the Allen School and the electrical and computer engineering department. This research was funded by the University of Washington. The researchers have applied for a patent that covers systems and methods for SpO2 classification using smartphones (application number: 17/164,745).

Source: University of Washington

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Health

Investigators capture a “molecular snapshot” to illuminate the origins of pulmonary arterial hypertension

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Newswise — Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare and incurable disease of the lung arteries that causes early death. In PAH, excess scar tissue and thickening of lung blood vessels occur as the result of increased cell “biomass.” These changes obstruct blood flow and are detrimental to the heart, but until now the basic features of biomass in PAH were not known. A team led by investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, in collaboration with Matthew Steinhauser, MD, a metabolism and cell imaging expert at the University of Pittsburg, and investigators at the University of Vienna, set out to better understand the origins of arterial biomass in PAH. Using an animal model of PAH, the team applied network medicine and advanced molecular imaging tools to identify chemical building blocks that are taken up by arterial cells and ultimately contribute to blood vessel obstruction. Using multi-isotope imaging mass spectrometry (MIMS) under the guidance of Steinhauser and Christelle Guillermier, PhD, at BWH, the researchers could pinpoint the location and abundance of key contributors to biomass, including the amino acid proline and the sugar molecule glucose. Using MIMS, the team visualized proline and glucose tracers injected into the bloodstream of an animal model of PAH. They saw that the molecules were used by arterial cells of the lung to build excess scar tissue (including the protein collagen), which contributed to blood vessel obstruction. 

“Our study describes the world’s first use of multi-isotope imaging mass spectrometry (MIMS) in the study of lung disease,” said Bradley Wertheim, MD, of the Brigham’s Division of Pulmonary and Critical Medicine. “MIMS is a powerful microscopy tool that produces a ‘molecular snapshot’ that can provide information down to the resolution of a single cell.” 

“These findings suggest that the uptake and metabolism of protein precursors may be fundamental to PAH biology.  Closer investigation of proline and glucose in human PAH may uncover opportunities to inhibit biomass formation, prevent obstruction of lung arteries, and decrease the chance of heart failure for PAH patients,” said co-senior author Bradley Maron, MD, of the Brigham’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.

Read more in JCI Insight.

Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital

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fitness

Renaissance ClubSport Launches ‘Live Life Better’ Campaign

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The upscale Orange County fitness resort rings in the new year with a commitment to fitness, wellness, mental health and a free $350 new member package offered for a limited time with signup.

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. /PRNewswire/ — Renaissance ClubSport, Aliso Viejo’s premier fitness resort, has officially rolled out their new ‘Live Life Better’ campaign for 2023. The all-inclusive club offers opportunities to level up both your mental and physical health for a life well experienced. ‘Live Life Better’ kicks off with an exciting free ($350 value) new member package that is only available for a limited time. The incentive includes 2 personal training sessions, a sports lesson, free smoothie and more. The extensive property at ClubSport has a robust array of services that offer something for the entire family, including 3 hours of child care daily for family memberships.

Renaissance ClubSport Website

Feel better, be better, and live life better

“Living better is about empowering our guests, elevating their fitness potential and giving a renewed sense of purpose for the new year.” says Heather Stanek, Vice President/General Manager at ClubSport. “This is not about the usual new year new me commitment, but rather being comfortable with who you are and making small, smart choices to level up throughout the year. We are confident that our top tier classes and facilities will bring not only positive change, but a lot of fun during your “glow up” process.”

Throughout 2022 ClubSport underwent a massive renovation, which includes a 5,000 sq/ft performance training space (The Edge), new Pickleball courts and an upgraded Formula3 studio for boutique fitness classes, within their 100,000 square feet of fitness offerings. ClubSport recently added Jiu Jitsu classes for kids on top of the multiple other daily classes available for members including yoga, HIIT, and so much more.

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Reach new physical goals with ClubSport led fitness classes, personal trainers, swim in the lap pool and even warm up with a nice game of basketball or racquetball. Improve mental health with a visit to the R Spa, mind/body classes, indoor sauna, steam room and hot tubs. Plus enjoy social activities including wine tasting, sound baths, live music or one of their new monthly Life Hack Series workshops designed to eliminate life’s frustrations in simple and uncomplicated ways to live life better. Many guests enjoy reconnecting with friends over lunch at their on-site restaurant.

ClubSport is the place where you can experience life better with loved ones, your kids, and yourself. Access to The Edge, Pickleball, and all classes are available daily and are included for all members and overnight guests of their 174-room boutique hotel. ClubSport is located at 50 Enterprise, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656 and more on the gym can be found at www.clubsports.com

About Renaissance ClubSport:

ClubSport isn’t just another fitness club – we are a fitness resort. One of the largest health clubs in Orange County, our studio-style classes include HIIT, yoga, group training, and more! Our state-of-the-art equipment, dedicated staff, and outstanding amenities provide a unique environment where members can enjoy fitness, relaxation, and recreation.

First opened 2008, ClubSport is an all-in-one gym experience that is easily accessible from the 73 toll road and is a quick drive from exits off the 5 and 405 freeways. ClubSport is available to those with a membership and to hotel guests during their stay. The club is open Monday-Friday from 5am to 10pm and Saturday-Sunday from 6am to 10pm. To take a peek at ClubSport and for membership information please visit www.clubsports.com

SOURCE Renaissance ClubSport

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https://stmdailynews.com/category/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/fitness/

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Health

Anti-ageing gene shown to rewind heart age by 10 years

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Breakthrough offers a potential target for patients with heart failure

Newswise — An anti-ageing gene discovered in a population of centenarians has been shown to rewind the heart’s biological age by 10 years. The breakthrough, published in Cardiovascular Research and led by scientists at the University of Bristol and the MultiMedica Group in Italy, offers a potential target for patients with heart failure.

Associated with exceptional longevity, carriers of healthy mutant genes, like those living in blue zones of the planet, often live to 100 years or more and remain in good health. These individuals are also less prone to cardiovascular complications. Scientists funded by the British Heart Foundation believe the gene helps to keep their hearts young by protecting them against diseases linked to ageing, such as heart failure.

In this new study, researchers demonstrate that one of these healthy mutant genes, previously proved particularly frequent in centenarians, can protect cells collected from patients with heart failure requiring cardiac transplantation.

The Bristol team, led by Professor Paolo Madeddu, has found that a single administration of the mutant anti-ageing gene halted the decay of heart function in middle-aged mice. Even more remarkably, when given to elderly mice, whose hearts exhibit the same alterations observed in elderly patients, the gene rewound the heart’s biological clock age by the human equivalent of more than ten years.

Professor Madeddu, Professor of Experimental Cardiovascular Medicine from Bristol Heart Institute at the University of Bristol and one of the study’s authors, explained: “The heart and blood vessel function is put at stake as we age. However, the rate at which these harmful changes occur is different among people. Smoking, alcohol, and sedentary life make the ageing clock faster. Whereas eating well and exercising delay the heart’s ageing clock.

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“In addition, having good genes inherited from parents can help to stay young and healthy. Genes are sequences of letters that encode proteins. By chance, some of these letters can mutate. Most of these mutations are insignificant; in a few cases, however, the mutation can make the gene function worse or better, like for the mutant anti-ageing gene we have studied here on human cells and older mice.”

The three-year study was also performed in test tube human cardiac cells in Italy. Researchers from the MultiMedica Group in Milan led by Professor Annibale Puca, administered the gene in heart cells from elderly patients with severe heart problems, including transplantation, and then compared their function with those of healthy individuals.

Monica Cattaneo, a researcher of the MultiMedica Group in Milan, Italy, and first author of the work said: “The cells of the elderly patients, in particular those that support the construction of new blood vessels, called ‘pericytes’, were found to be less performing and more aged. By adding the longevity gene/protein to the test tube, we observed a process of cardiac rejuvenation: the cardiac cells of elderly heart failure patients have resumed functioning properly, proving to be more efficient in building new blood vessels.”

Centenarians pass their healthy genes to their offspring. The study demonstrates for the first time that a healthy gene found in centenarians could be transferred to unrelated people to protect their hearts. Other mutations might be found in the future with similar or even superior curative potential than the one investigated by this research. Professor Madeddu and Professor Annibale Puca of the MultiMedica Group in Milan believe this study may fuel a new wave of treatments inspired by the genetics of centenarians. 

Professor Madeddu added: “Our findings confirm the healthy mutant gene can reverse the decline of heart performance in older people. We are now interested in determining if giving the protein instead of the gene can also work. Gene therapy is widely used to treat diseases caused by bad genes. However, a treatment based on a protein is safer and more viable than gene therapy.

“We have received funding from the Medical Research Council to test healthy gene therapy in Progeria. This genetic disease, also known as Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, causes early aging damage to children’s hearts and blood vessels. We have also been funded by the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK to test the protein in older and diabetic mice, respectively.”

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Annibale Puca, Head of the laboratory at the IRCCS MultiMedica and Professor at the University of Salerno, added: “Gene therapy with the healthy gene in mouse models of disease has already been shown to prevent the onset of atherosclerosis, vascular ageing, and diabetic complications, and to rejuvenate the immune system.

“We have a new confirmation and enlargement of the therapeutic potential of the gene/protein. We hope to test its effectiveness soon in clinical trials on patients with heart failure.”

Professor James Leiper, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the research, said: “We all want to know the secrets of ageing and how we might slow down age-related disease. Our heart function declines with age but this research has extraordinarily revealed that a variant of a gene that is commonly found in long-lived people can halt and even reverse ageing of the heart in mice.

“This is still early-stage research, but could one day provide a revolutionary way to treat people with heart failure and even stop the debilitating condition from developing in the first place.”

The study is funded by the British Heart Foundation and the Italian Ministry of Health.

Paper

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The longevity-associated BPIFB4 gene supports cardiac function and vascularization in aging cardiomyopathy’ by Annibale Puca et al. in Cardiovascular Research [open access]

Source: University of Bristol

https://stmdailynews.com/category/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/health/

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