Heart failure is a major cause of serious morbidity and death in general and one of the leading medical causes of hospitalization among people older than 60 years. Especially with heart failure, diuretic-induced hypocalcaemia is a much dreaded side effect, as it favours the occurrence of malignant arrhythmias. Therefore, an adaptation of the diuretic dose in heart failure patients is typically carried out after monitoring the potassium plasma levels. A second disease where the patients´ conditions could be improved by potassium monitoring is chronic renal insufficiency. Currently, a routine control of potassium levels requires a hospital admission (emergency room) or at least a visit to the doctor for taking a blood sample. The blood sample is then sent to a laboratory for analyzing the potassium level. This quite complex (logistic) process is a burden for both the patient and the health care system, and causes high costs and a delay between blood sampling and test results.
The aim of the project is to evaluate potassium measurement technologies for their use as disposable potassium test strips. Like diabetes patients monitor their blood sugar levels by finger-pricking and using a drop of capillary blood for a blood glucose measurement we want to enable patients with heart failure and renal insufficiency to monitor their blood potassium levels the same way. The measured potassium value could be stored in an electronic diary and used for optimization and individualization of the therapy of the patient by the attending physician. Moving one step further the measured potassium values could be sent to the patient´s doctor via a telemedicine application which would allow the physician to monitor the patient´s health status and would enable him to intervene before the patient´s status reaches a critical level which would lead to an emergency admission to the hospital.