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My Medical Digital Twin

Can a medical digital twin give you better health?

Six departments at NTNU are collaborating to create a medical digital twin that can both monitor the blood pressure of each individual and provide tailored treatment advice, including exercise. CERG professor Ulrik Wisløff leads the part of the project that deals with exercise and cardiovascular physiology.

MyMDT: The Vision
The vision of the My Medical Digital Twin project is to offer tailored treatment for high blood pressure based on mathematical models that include everything from genetics to machine learning.

Background for the project

More than one billion people in the world have high blood pressure. Every year, high blood pressure causes nearly eight million deaths, and the WHO considers it by far the most important risk factor for premature death and serious illness. This is also reflected in the fact that 10% of the world's health costs are related to high blood pressure.

There is rarely one single cause of high blood pressure, and high genetic risk, obesity, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity are among the most common causes. High blood pressure can be effectively treated with both medication and lifestyle changes. Nevertheless, only one in three who are diagnosed with high blood pressure manages to lower it to recommended levels, even though most of them receive medication from their doctor.

Incidence and burden of high blood pressure
High blood pressure without a known cause is called essential hypertension and constitutes a major health burden for both individuals and society.

Automatic monitoring and follow-up

The My Medical Digital Twin project unites NTNU's top researchers within exercise, high blood pressure, mathematical modeling, machine learning, statistics, biosensor technology, genetic epidemiology and population studies in a comprehensive research collaboration. The ambition is to develop a personal medical digital twin that gives you information about your blood pressure and what you should do to change it for the better.

We believe My Medical Digital Twin could lead to a paradigm shift in how we approach and treat lifestyle diseases in general, and not just high blood pressure. If everyone has a digital twin that enables them to monitor important health variables continuously, we can both detect far more high-risk patients than today and ensure that they are given the right dose and type of treatment. A medical digital twin will be able to improve the health of very many people, and at the same time reduce the health costs for the society formidably.

Tailor-made training and medication

There are several models that aim to provide individual treatment advice for high blood pressure. None of them include high fitness and physical activity, although there is a lot of research showing that exercise can lower blood pressure effectively. My Medical Digital Twin will be a living, digital model that integrates data from large population surveys, previous CERG studies, machine learning and physical simulation with data flow from sensors and accelerometers.

The finished model will be able to predict how each individual patient will respond to a type of treatment, which makes it possible to tailor advice on the right exercise and medication prescription based on individual patient profiles. The recommendations can also be adjusted automatically based on how the patient actually responds to the treatment he receives. My Medical Digital Twin will also give us a unique opportunity to study whether patients follow the treatment plan they are given, and what kind of feedback they need to adhere to their medication and exercise recommendations.

Digital twin versus standard treatment

When we have developed My Medical Digital Twin, we will initially test it in small randomized clinical studies. These studies will lay the foundation for larger studies with partners also outside NTNU. Patients with high blood pressure will be randomly assigned to receive tailored treatment advice from a digital twin or to receive regular medication and exercise advice from their physician. We will recruit patients from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study, and the main purpose is to see which treatment model reduces blood pressure most effectively.

Treatment of hypertension
My Medical Digital Twin can revolutionize the way we treat high blood pressure. With today's treatment strategy, only a minority get control of their blood pressure.