by Yevgeny YUMATOV, Dr. Sc. (Medicine), Normal Physiology Department, I. Sechenov Medical Academy, Moscow
Urgent medical assistance, if given timely, is all-important for people's life and health. So is information medicine which relies on analytical data about the activity of different systems of our organism and on objective indicators of its physiology. It thus becomes possible to make practical recommendations in detecting a variety of precursors of diseases and critical conditions. Using electronic microprocessors, we can design essentially novel medical devices and technologies, and achieve a breakthrough in the early diagnostics of dangerous pathologies.
What with psychic and emotional stresses that man has to live with nowadays, his health and his very life are often at risk. No one is safe against a sudden heart attack or brain failure. Disease often takes us unawares. For all its arsenal of drugs and techniques, modern medicine can do but little in the absence of timely first aid.
To preclude such misfortunes, we should step up efforts in prophylactic health protection. In practice, however, this proves to be a very difficult job. Besides, we are involved overmuch with our personal problems, and bent too much on social success. That is why most prospective patients neglect prevention and turn to the doctor or else start taking medication only when they feel bad. But their subjective sensations may come rather late-late enough for reversing conditions threatening their health and life. The point is that the effects of grave physiological dysfunctions in the organism may descend on us all of a sudden, like a bolt out of the blue, without pain and/or bouts of sickness antecedent to pathology. The first symptoms show up much later.
In a nutshell, we can say but this: untimely first aid is the fatal factor that carries off so many lives. The paradox is that a lot of technical and electronic devices of nonstop action have been designed for monitoring the performance of industrial hardware and household technology. For instance, a car-driver keeps tabs on his automobile-also, by using data collected by all the various instruments. The same is true of air pilots and seamen. The human organism, however, is a far more complex system, and it keeps on without constant medical control or some alarm signaling system.
This is impermissible. Anyone should be able to pick early warning signals about dysfunctions in the organism and then consult the doctor for treatment. It is not diagnostics as such that comes first, but rather a quick preventive response to the early objective signs of disturbances in the performance of the cardiovascular, respiratory or some other vital systems. What we need here is a set of medical appliances enabling on-line control over the state and activity of our organ-
ism. This is the domain of a new discipline, information medicine, which has a good methodic base for designing adequate diagnostic devices. A range of such original appliances have already been designed in this country.
As scientists see it, the behavioral responses of a living organism, its resistivity to external effects and internal "breakages", and the stability of its physiological functions are realized via sophisticated interaction of numerous self-regulating functional systems in which central and peripheral organs join forces toward adaptive results useful to the organism. Information medicine is predicated exactly on this very premise.
Instruments of early warning signalization ("health guards"), which it designs, are akin to regular household appliances employed under ordinary conditions: that is when we are awake and when we are asleep, when we are at work and when we are at home, or when we use mass-transit facilities. Built into the native architectonics of the organism's systems, these devices serve as an additional outer link in the information chain covering vital physiological indicators of self-regulation. Should these deviate from essential physiological standards, the outer system of self-regulation gives an early alarm signal which informs such and such individual about the first symptoms of disturbances in various physiological functions-disturbances which this individual does not sense subjectively yet.
Thus warned, an individual will take appropriate steps in good time so as to normalize his physiological condition (say, take adequate medication, ease his psychic, emotional or physical load). He will consult his doctor for a checkup and treatment so as to curb the progress of disease. Let me add: the devices developed at our Medical Academy incorporate sensitive elements capable of registering the vital physiological indicators of the human organism. A microprocessor is an essential part of our technology: it assesses the dataflow and, if need be, issues signals. The software may be adjusted to individual cases and conditions.
All of our instruments have essentially the same block diagram. Yet they differ in the parameters of
input signals, types of sensors and in the characteristics of amplifiers. Their noise immunity and specific functions may be different too-as well as their software and design characteristics for that matter. Such instruments are miniaturized, so anyone can carry them about and feel well at ease.
We have designed and patented a batch of unique medical instruments for human health and life protection. This is above all our Heart Protection System, a device for continuous monitoring and early warning adjusted to any particular individual. On the basis of ECG data registered nonstop, it signals the first objective symptoms of a heart condition.
This instrument works as follows. A strap with contact electrodes is attached to the chest for ECG registration. A cardiosignal passes through the amplifier to the microprocessor's block where the data are collated with concrete values loaded into the memory (storage) unit for upper and lower levels permissible. If the cardiac action parameters deviate from the permissible limits, an alarm is sounded, and a respective signal is simultaneously represented on the display.
Proceeding from our own studies and observations, we have suggested a novel device (Stress Dose Meter) for evaluating emotional stress at home and at work according to objective quantitative parameters; this gadget is adjustable to individual users. If necessary, preventive measures (relaxation, etc.) can be recommended.
The apparatus registers vegetative indicators of the human organism: heartbeat and respiratory rates with respect to what we call cross-correlation coefficients which, as we have found, reflect the degree of emotional stress in objective terms. If the stress parameter does not agree with the prescribed value, our device sounds an alarm. Should the emotional stress level be within permissible limits, a user can anytime check up on his condition by visual indicators on the display.
Yet another device developed by us is designed for optimizing the awakening process (Physiological Clock). Rude awakening is not at all harmless to the organism, as we have found in the course of our studies of people who have to wake up at fixed time. We have surveyed preschoolers, school pupils and college students. Such waking up comes at the most "inopportune" time, and it causes bad mood, sleepiness, headache, weakness, attention slackening and other untoward effects. Our appliance can help in getting rid of such symptoms. To begin with, it registers and memorizes all the sleep phases. Studying these data, your doctor can select the mode of sleep optimal for your psychic and emotional condition, and pinpoint the adequate time for awakening. Adjusted accordingly, our "alarm-clock" will sound a proper awakening signal. Furthermore, this timepiece can break sleep phases hazardous to one's life because of pronounced cardiovascular malfunctions that may lead to a stroke, heart attack and sudden death. To prevent such misfortunes, our device takes electroencephalogram (EEG) and electrooculogram (EOG) readings nonstop. Should these values be improper and pose danger, our "alarm-clock" will wake you up in a jiffy.
Aside from regular users, it can also be helpful to medics in studying the structure of sleep under the effect of various factors, such as emotional stress and fatigue, disease, pregnancy, shift work, medication, drug and alcohol addiction...
And something else as well-a miniature instrument for taking one's blood pressure, the size of a regular pen. People suffering from cardiovascular disease, kidney conditions and other maladies cannot do without aids like that. This meter may be of use to healthy persons, too, for arterial pressure control during physical work and emotional stresses.
We have developed an array of other devices meant for everyday use. They enable self-control otherwise impossible if unaided. In this wise certain latent processes affecting the organism's vital functions can be visualized and controlled. Separate modules developed at our Medical Academy can be integrated into one complex, a PC Be Healthyl
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