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Smartphone Stethoscope Captures, Analyzes and Shares Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Sound Data

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 07 Jun 2023
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Image: The Stethophone application enables smartphones to be used as class-leading stethoscopes (Photo courtesy of Sparrow BioAcoustics)
Image: The Stethophone application enables smartphones to be used as class-leading stethoscopes (Photo courtesy of Sparrow BioAcoustics)

As human longevity increases, the incidence of heart disease and cardiac complications related to other conditions also rises. Currently, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the primary cause of death worldwide, accounting for 32% of all global fatalities. Consequently, the population at risk of CVD is increasing, creating the need for convenient, accessible screening for symptoms whenever and wherever they occur. A pioneering technology now allows for the collection and sharing of medical-grade cardiac and pulmonary data using just a smartphone. This unique audio technology captures and utilizes the rich diagnostic potential concealed in chest sounds to take cardiac assessment beyond the clinic.

Sparrow BioAcoustics’ (Newfoundland, Canada) breakthrough software transforms smartphones into class-leading stethoscopes capable of capturing, analyzing, and sharing cardiovascular and pulmonary sound data. The Stethophone app, which can be downloaded onto smartphones, utilizes advanced acoustic processing to equip smartphones with highly sensitive cardiac and pulmonary listening capabilities. The uniqueness of Stethophone lies in its simplicity: there is no need for new plug-ins, charging, or connections. Heart and lung sounds can be recorded by merely placing a smartphone on a patient's chest, eliminating the need for additional devices.

A heartbeat's sound is produced by the opening and closing of heart valves and the circulation of blood. When valves malfunction, causing irregular or possibly reversed blood flow, the heart emits abnormal sounds. A wide range of defects and conditions can be identified through the analysis of the sounds emitted by a beating heart. While human hearing can detect sounds from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, heart sounds tend to be on the extremes of this range. Sparrow's Stethophone employs bioacoustic engineering to capture these sounds using a smartphone's built-in microphone. The app filters, isolates, compresses, and amplifies barely audible sounds, enabling it to extract almost imperceptible audio signals from a sea of vibrations. These signals carry a wealth of diagnostic information about the heart's structure and condition.

Sparrow’s Stethophone transforms a smartphone into a medical-grade stethoscope, offering enhanced audio, dynamic visualizations of recordings, advanced analysis, and secure transmission of examinations. Sparrow is the first company to develop and receive clearance for software that allows a smartphone to act as a scanner for cardiac signals, matching or surpassing the performance of current gold-standard clinical devices. In recent trials, 70% of medical professionals rated the Stethophone as having superior diagnostic sound performance compared to other leading devices. The Stethophone also outperformed in terms of overall correct heart pathology diagnosis and correct normal heart diagnosis.

“Our goal is to enable large-scale, rapid detection of cardiac and pulmonary symptoms, wherever they occur,” said Mark Attila Opauszky, CEO of Sparrow BioAcoustics. “There is a world of diagnostic information contained in chest sounds, and the healthcare system needs a practical way to capture this data and put it to work for the benefit of patients. Stethophone eliminates the main obstacles to doing that.”

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