Guardian is a new program for the range of Psion machines by Xenetech, a new company based in the UK . The main aim of the program is the assessment of cardiovascular risk and then to adjust those lifestyle factors that may modify this risk. Although this program is not primarily aimed at doctors I feel that it would be doctors who would make the best use of it.
The kit supplied by Xenetech comes with floppy disc, cardiosport sensor and a specialist receiver that plugs in to the RS232 port in the Psion. Installing the software on the S5 was simple using the SIS file supplied. I have not loaded into a S3a/c machine but there is a detailed manual that gives all relevant instructions.
On starting the program you begin as a new patient and are asked various details to assess your own cardiovascular risk. This is calculated from the Framingham cohort study which is a very well described population and from which most of our understanding of the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease arises. Medikit by Jonathan Perry also contains a version of this risk assessment. After a brief calculation you are given your cardiovascular risk (mine was only 1% over the next ten years). Now you can argue how meaningful that is for a 30 year old like myself but suppose you were 40 and your risk was 25% that would be much more important.
The largest part of the program is devoted to modification of your risk factors mainly by diet and exercise. For instance there is a comprehensive exercise logger which you can detail the type and length of exercise taken. Other sections deal with stress, cholesterol, hypertension, smoking, salt intake and relaxation. These parts are aimed at the lay person who is striving to alter there lifestyle and should prove very useful.
However the most exciting part of the package is the heart rate monitor. This consists of a Cardiosport strap, a receiver that plugs into the RS232 port and of course your Psion. The device works by detecting the hearts intrinsic electrical activity like an ECG and transmits this to the receiver. This is a wireless operation and so heart rate can be monitored whilst doing other activities e.g. on a training bike. I found setting up the equipment straightforward but it took a little time before I was able to get a good consistent reading.
Monitoring your heart rate allowed Guardian to detect your resting heart rate (another risk factor for an adverse event) and there was also a utility to allow biofeedback to try and reduce heart rate through relaxation. The heart rate monitor could also be used during exercise to ensure that you were doing aerobic exercise.
Overall Guardian is an extensive, well researched piece of software which could help people to modify their cardiovascular risk factors. It could be used in the setting of GP surgery or in a cardiac rehabilitation setting. The program is not perfect, the text could be more readable, the program still has the odd bug and it does take practice to get the best use of the monitor. However it is relatively cheap for medical software and if targeted at the right people may provide enough encouragement to change a persons lifestyle to alter their cardiovascular risk significantly.
P.S. A brief wish. Can this device be altered to record an ECG?
|Program plus receiver||£69|
|Program plus receiver and monitor||£99|