Right when we thought that our smartphones had evolved to the max, that there was not much innovation left in the smartphone industry, they don’t need to smarten up anymore, we got the mindboggling news that a smartphone app can effectively help detect irregular heart rate.
The app when combined with a hand-held wireless single lead heart monitor (ECG) could be practically and effectively used to detect irregular heart rate or a potentially fatal, condition known as atrial fibrillation (AF).
This technique is economically feasible and easily accessible since it can allow for systematic mass screening, given that the condition was silent in around two thirds of newly diagnosed cases, according to the researchers.
AF is linked with an increased risk of stroke, heart failure, and death, and its presence is likely to increase threefold by 2050 in the US, because it becomes more common as a person gets older, especially after the age of 65.
There is good news, luckily, proper treatment can cut the risk of a stroke by up to 70%. The scientists tested more than 13,000 adults in Hong Kong for atrial fibrillation between May 2014 and April 2015, using a smartphone app combined with a hand-held, wireless, single lead heart monitor (ECG).
The test lasted for 30 seconds and managed to detect 101 cases of AF that were previously undiagnosed. In two thirds of these cases, the condition did not present any symptoms, but their combined risk scores topped 3, which meant that they would have benefited from treatment.
The result wasn’t interpretable in only 56 (0.4%) of the tested cases. Overall, almost one in 10 (8.5%) of those tested had AF, which is comparable with that of populations in developed countries.
Increasing age, especially greater than 60, belonging to the male gender, weight, and a history of heart disease or surgery and peripheral vascular disease all were predictors of the disease. Current guidelines suggest that AF screening should be done randomly, but the researchers suggest that their findings indicate that systematic mass screening might be preferred over it.
The researchers added, “In order to relieve both patients and society from the consequences of untreated AF, we believe and hope that AF screening in risk groups will be a part of the standard healthcare in many countries in the near future. Besides, isn’t it encouraging that we can use our smartphones to search for other things than Pokémons?”
AliveCor had developed an app for iOS and Android smartphones that is able to monitor ECG, approved by the FDA, with its native device, and gives analytical feedback. It is available for free from the App store and Google Play Store.
This app is meant for people who have a history of heart disease, and for anyone above the age of 60. Hence, such technological advancements will give more power to the patients as they won’t have to wait any longer in line to get their heart rate monitored, and will make life more convenient for them.