Off to a flying start

Thanks to high-quality ECG equipment and advanced software from YourRhythmics, cardiologists can now diagnose and quantify atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) much better than they have been able to in the past. This patient population, a group that is growing and getting younger at an alarming rate, will now be able to get the right treatment for this life-threatening illness a lot faster.

Barely a year old, YourRhythmics is a textbook case of a startup at the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus: a good idea that is perfected and then commercialized for launch on the market. It is an extraordinary example of smart cooperation and bundling of the strengths available at the campus. Just like his professional group, Professor Ulrich Schotten of Maastricht University is still involved in his brainchild. Maastricht Instruments was involved in the development of the equipment - produced nearby, at AIM in Brunssum - and the cardiologists at the Maastricht UMC+ are closely following the developments. The icing on the cake was when Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus became a co-shareholder in YourRhythmics.

In order to make the added value of YourRhythmics clear, it’s best to draw a comparison between now and later. The current procedure is the following: the cardiologist makes a visual evaluation of a simple, low resolution ECG during which ten values are measured. The standard course of treatment starts with anti-coagulants, beta-blockers and other medication. It is only after months of check-ups and any needed adjustments in medication that any necessary intervention such as cardioversion (electric shocks) or ablation (applying heat or cold to tissue to remove the “short circuit”) may be applied.

CEO Patric Machiels, seconded to YourRhythmics by Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, explains how the equipment and YourRhythmics’ software can improve the diagnosis considerably and speed up the treatment procedure. “Our ECG equipment is producing electrocardiograms with a much higher resolution than before. This alone is a major win. Besides, we are not just measuring ten, but 40 values, including an internal electrocardiogram inserted via the esophagus. Our software saves the collected values (interesting for researchers) and performs analyses (interesting for doctors). Professor Ulrich Schotten’s team extracts parameters from the collected ECG values which are used to quantify atrial fibrillation. This is exactly what cardiologists need: they want to know how big the ‘short circuit’ is, and the precise location where it is occurring. The next step is to correlate these parameters with therapies.”

YourRhythmics’ ECG equipment has since been launched on the market. The software used for analysis will follow in 2018. This brings us to the ultimate goal. Between now and three years, after the initial measurements, cardiologists will already be able to tell patients with atrial fibrillation, “We are going to skip the ‘let’s try medication first’ phase entirely. In your case, I recommend the following treatment; it has an 87% success rate.’”

“We are now optimizing the application for atrial fibrillation. Once we have gotten this up and running, we will start working on other applications.”