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Smartphone System Detects Irregular Heartbeats

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 29 Sep 2016
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Image: The Beat2Phone device measures ECG signals and sends them to a cellphone (Photo courtesy of VTT).
Image: The Beat2Phone device measures ECG signals and sends them to a cellphone (Photo courtesy of VTT).
A mobile app and thumb-sized device help to prevent cerebral infarctions by detecting early-onset atrial fibrillation (AF).

Developed by researchers at the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT; Espoo), the Beat2Phone device measures electrocardiogram (ECG) signals at a very high sampling rate, identify individual heartbeats and counting the interval between consecutive beats. By accurately measuring the user's heart rate and heart rate variability, the device can detect not only an irregular heartbeat, but also overburdening and prolonged stress, as evidenced by a high resting heart rate and low heart rate variability.

The mobile device has been tested so far by about 30 heart patients at Turku University Hospital (Finland), some of whom have also worn the device at night. The test population includes people who have reported heart symptoms that were not detected during Holter monitoring, as well as by athletes and professional sportspersons with heart conditions who need to monitor their heart activity regularly, as changes in ECG may be an indicator of myocarditis or other serious conditions.

In the tests, the device helped to detect AF, arrhythmia, and a cardiac conduction disorder, sending a notification directly to the user’s cell phone. Once the Beat2Phone ECGs were reviewed by a physician, the patients were admitted for further tests. According to the developers, other potential users of the device include monitoring people suffering from sleep apnea, as well those who suffer from musculoskeletal disorders such as neck, shoulder, and lower back pain, tennis elbow, and repetitive strain injury, which are common among office workers.

“With the mobile device developed by VTT, users can register their ECG signal whenever arrhythmia or other heart symptoms occur,” said Timo Varpula, PhD, principal scientist at VTT. “The device is also suitable for pre- and post-surgery monitoring of heart patients at home. There is no need for patients to visit a hospital, because the data is sent automatically from a mobile phone to medical staff via a cloud service.”

Related Links:
Technical Research Centre of Finland
Turku University Hospital

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