PI: David Smith. Co-Is: Zaki Hassan-Smith, Neil Gittoes, Meurig Gallagher. Artist in Residence: Vicky Roden
University of Birmingham research governance reference number: RG_20-088
Hyperthyroidism is a common condition affecting approximately 1 million people in the UK. The thyroids (glands located in the neck) produce too much of certain hormones called ‘T3’ and ‘T4’. This condition can occur for a number of reasons, including growths and the immune system being over-active. If these hormones cannot be controlled properly, they can have serious effects such as heart failure or osteoporosis.
Doctors treat hyperthyroidism with drugs to reduce how much hormone is made. The amount of drug needed is hard to predict, so patients have to return to check and vary their dose, often several times. This is inconvenient and costs a lot of money. It can be bad for the patients if their hormones are too high or too low.
We will solve this problem by developing an app to enable doctors to predict the best dose. The app will take into account the available data: hormone levels at the beginning and early stages of treatment, age, sex, and weight.
The app will then say what is likely to happen to help the doctor decide what to do. The maths inside the app will be based on patient records from Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.
We will also try out new ways to help patients track their condition when they are not visiting the doctor. An example device is a fitbit – a watch that measures heart rate, sleep and activity. This will help say how well the dose is working for the patient. High heart rate, lack of sleep, over activity then crashing, are signs the dose is too low. Low heart rate, tiredness all the time and lack of activity are signs the dose is too high. All of these symptoms have a big effect on quality of life, and might tell us more than just looking at numbers from blood tests.