Health, demographic change and wellbeing - HEARTMAN


The HeartMan project is an European project that aims at giving heart failure patients a more active role in their disease management. The HeartMan consortium consists of nine partners from five European countries. It is a multidisciplinary project that requires various types of technical expertise, domain knowledge and interaction with patients. Therefore, it brings together two research institutes, three universities, two SMEs, one large enterprise and one non-governmental organization. The partners have been carefully selected for their complementary expertise in their respective areas.  The project is coordinated by Dr. Mitja Lustrek (Jozef Stefan Institute, Slovenia) and will run from January 2016 until December 2018.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a disease in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to properly supply the body with oxygen and nutrients. The main symptom is the inability to be physically active, which makes the disease quite debilitating.  CHF patients have to take various medications, are supposed to monitor their weight, are advised to exercise,  need to watch what they eat and drink, and have to make changes to their lifestyle. All this makes CHF management very difficult. This is where the HeartMan system comes in: it will provide accurate advice on disease management adapted to each patient, and it will do it in a friendly and supportive fashion.

The heart of the HeartMan system will be a user-friendly mobile application which will provide the best advice modern medicine can offer. Using health devices such as a wristband for monitoring of vital signs, the application can predict under which conditions the patient's health or wellbeing is likely to get worse. When such conditions are detected, the application will search for actions the patient can take in order to prevent worsening. Changing life-long habits is hard and people often need some help, and this is what the cognitive behavioural therapy does: it is a series of mental exercises and simple practical exercises that can change one's mindset. In the HeartMan system, it will be delivered through the application with some help from a friend or relative.

To make sure the HeartMan system will truly be designed for the patients, the patients will be involved from the start. We will research the patients' problems and expectations, observe them in their everyday life, and involve them in making the actual prototypes. When the HeartMan system is ready to be used, we will test whether the projects' goals have been met using two trials, one in Belgium and one in Italy. 80 patients will use the system for several months, and we will compare them with 40 patients undergoing regular CHF treatment. We expect that the patients using the HeartMan system will be healthier and will feel better than the group with the regular treatment. We also hope the patients will tell us that they like the HeartMan system, but we will also listen carefully to what bothered them and take this into account before the system reaches the market.


These are the objectives of HeartMan:

  • The advice and interventions provided by the personal health system will have to be correct and adapted to each individual patient
  • The system will have to be designed in such way that the patient will be able and willing to fully take advantage of it
  • The system will have to be sufficiently mature and validated at the end of the project to quickly  reach the market and the patients


    Role of Ghent University

    Ghent University will take a leading role in the search for the necessary medical and user requirements and in the validation of the HeartMan system.



    Prof. Els Clays
    Department of Public Health
    Phone number: +329 332 36 16