THE APNEA ALARM: Biomarkers and a Device to Alarm when Risk of Death from Obstructive Apnea is Immediate

Analyzes electrocardiogram (ECG) data and sounds an alarm when two critical biomarkers exceed thresholds, enabling lifesaving intervention.
Background: Epileptic seizures can cause laryngospasm sufficiently severe to produce complete airway obstruction. Once occluded, attempts to inhale against a closed airway get progressively stronger until attempts stop (the point of respiratory arrest). These events result in two biomarkers. The first is the fact that breathing attempts produce clear artifacts in electrocardiogram (ECG) or electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings whose amplitude highly correlates with the force of attempted inspiration. The second biomarker is the fact that late in the occlusion, the RR interval variability is dramatically increased due to an overall slower heart rate in combination with some very short RR intervals closely associated with the attempts to breathe. These two biomarkers clearly indicate when a person is obstructed, attempting to breathe, and generating large forces in these attempts. Technology Overview: The Apnea Alarm, developed by researchers at the Downstate Health Sciences University, extracts the two biomarkers from ECG data and sets off an alarm. The ECG data used for biomarker extraction can come from multiple sources. In settings where the ECG monitoring is already in place (for instance hospitals) the biomarker identification algorithms can be added to the existing instrumentation. In an ambulatory or home setting, ECG can be obtained by a minimally intrusive “bracelet” similar to one used for popular heart rate monitoring. Biomarker extraction involves taking the single ECG signal and processing it different ways for each of the two biomarkers. The device sounds an alarm if either biomarker meets critical threshold conditions, alerting a caregiver in time to take lifesaving action. Advantages: – Accurately alerts caregivers of laryngospasm episodes in time for lifesaving intervention.

  • Works in both hospital settings as well as home/ambulatory settings.
  • Can take advantage of existing ECG equipment without requiring costly investment in new devices.
  • Requires no special training to use. Applications: The primary application for this technology is to monitor patients susceptible to laryngospasm caused by epileptic seizures. Intellectual Property Summary: Patent application filed. Licensing Potential: Licensing Licensing Status: This technology is available for licensing. The technology will be of value to any company or institution involved in providing emergency relief to patients suffering from seizure-induced laryngospasm. This includes:
  • Manufacturers of medical devices
  • Hospitals
  • Emergency services and agencies


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