According to the study, published in the journa lEuropean Society of Cardiology, a team of researchers from University of Turku, Finland, has developed a low-cost app that uses the smartphone’s accelerometer and gyroscope to detect atrial fibrillation with existing hardware.
“Atrial fibrillation is a dangerous medical condition present in 2% of the global population and accounting for up to seven million strokes per year,” said lead author Tero Koivisto, a vice-director of the Technology Research Centre (TRC), University of Turku, Finland.
Around 70% of strokes due to atrial fibrillation can be avoided with pre-emptive medication. However, atrial fibrillation often occurs randomly on/off and is difficult to detect by visiting a doctor.
There are relatively large and costly electrocardiogram (ECG) devices that patients can take home for long-term monitoring but they require a patch or wires that are clumsy to use and continuous contact with electrodes tends to irritate the skin.
Due to the above constraints, current methods for detection of atrial fibrillation are infeasible for wide-scale screening of populations or higher risk age groups (60 years and above).
The study included 16 patients with atrial fibrillation in addition with 20 recordings from healthy people who were used as control group data to validate the developed algorithm and tested the ability of a smartphone to detect atrial fibrillation without any add-on hardware.
To detect atrial fibrillation, a smartphone was placed on the chest of the patient, and accelerometer and gyroscope recordings were taken.
Using this technology the investigators detected atrial fibrillation with a sensitivity and specificity of more than 95%.
“We measured the actual motion of the heart via miniature accelerometers and gyroscopes that are already installed in smartphones. No additional hardware is needed and people just need to install an app with the algorithm we developed,” Koivisto added.
An individual needs to place the phone on their chest, take an accelerometer angyroscope measurement, and then use the app to analyse the result.