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Technion working with startup on app to identify early signs of heart failure

Israeli university working with the engineering start-up Cordio to create state-of-the-art innovation which could save lives

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Professor Zahar Azzam presenting at the Science Museum
Professor Zahar Azzam presenting at the Science Museum

Israel’s Technion Faculty of Medicine is working with an engineering start-up in the development of a smartphone app which can identify the first signs of heart failure.

Addressing a lunch given by Technion UK, Professor Zahar Azzam, who described himself as “a pure product of the Technion”, spoke about this innovative technology which is now being developed by the Technion and Cordio, the engineering start-up.

Professor Azzam, a Christian Arab who is director of the Department of Internal Medicine at Rambam Hospital, and vice-dean for medical education at the Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, is a cardiac specialist.

He is working with Tal Tamir, the CEO of Cordio, one of hundreds of start-up companies working with Technion. Professor Azzam’s focus is on clearing fluid from the lungs of patients with congestive heart failure, or CHF.

The groundbreaking technology uses speech and voice analysis in a smartphone app. A heart patient’s voice is sampled and then captured by the app. Any tiny changes in the voice can be detected to show differences in the level of lung fluid, even before the appearance of physical symptoms. The app allows alerts to be generated so that immediate treatment can be applied.

Mr Tamir said: “Congestive heart failure is the largest chronic condition in the world, with a very high hospitalisation rate”. The team of Technion and Cordio believe that the development of the phone app — which has other applications, to treat asthma, depression, and coronary artery disease — could cut medical costs and even prevent people having to go to hospital.

Clinical trials are currently taking place involving “hundreds of patients”, and preliminary results are “very promising”, Mr Tamir said.

Professor Azzam spoke warmly of the “diversity of intake” at Technion and said that the institution “encourages equality and mutual respect through science and technology. Medicine should not be divisive, but rather bring people together — and at Technion, it does”.

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