ESC 2016 congress volunteered one of the great technological intervention of smartphones into medical diagnosis. A latest research study found that a smartphone could be used to detect ‘atrial fibrillation’ which in turn could avoid chances of strokes.
Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke
Atrial Fibrillation is characterized by quavering, irregular heart beat which could mean a lot of heart health issues. According to Tero Koivisto, Vice-Director TRC, University of Turku, Finland, around 2% of world’s population is suffering from atrial fibrillation. This heart rhythm disorder if diagnosed before it’s too late could help the patient go easy with the mercy of preemptive medications but left undetected atrial issues could pop out as strokes, which results in around140,000 deaths every year with around 795,000 patients. Though not all strokes happen due to atrial fibrillation, 70 % could be prevented when found at the right stage. On a year Europeans spend around $19 billion for treatments related to atrial fibrillation.
Diagnosis or detection is done using ECG or Electro Cardio Grams, which basically isn’t a piece of technology for the homes. Else patients have to carry some other biosensors which could restrict their freedom of motion and comfort. Moreover, the cost is a factor which would restrain the usage of ECG’s at hospitals and clinics only. These constraints prevent a wide scale diagnosis of atrial fibrillation which means a large number of patients suffering from strokes every year.
Solution in your hand
The study from TRC was a breakthrough in detecting atrial fibrillation. They initially confirmed their discovery by using 16 volunteer patients along with 20 recording from normal people as a control group. They use the smartphone's gyroscope and accelerometer recording to gather data, which is later processed to rule out the possibility of an atrial fibrillation. Detailed explanation is down below. The best part of this study is that there are no add-ons required with smartphones. All you need is a smartphone and the app developed by the research team. Though it might sound similar to some bogus apps that we might have come across, this is a completely different story. The study rated a 95% accurate result in a diagnosis of patients with atrial fibrillation.
How does this work?
There are two sensors widely used in most of the modern smartphones, the accelerometer, and gyroscope. Here, a mobile phone is placed on the chest right above heart when a person is in prone or supine position. Certain measurements are taken over a span of time, the obtained data is pre-processed using a signal processing method. This preprocessed data is used to extract information’s on autocorrelation and spectral entropy. In the final step, a machine learning algorithm such as KSVM is used to draw a conclusion where the patient is suffering from atrial fibrillation or not.
The favor part
There are no extra fittings or hardware add-ons required, all you have to do is simply lie down and place the mobile above your heart. Moreover the test report isn’t something with complicated graphs and values, instead a much simpler Yes/No type confirming the presence of atrial fibrillation or not. The low cost and non-invasive diagnosis would stand in favor of millions who already had suffered from atrial issues or having such concerns. The future upgrades might include a secure server which stores info’s from all its users to chart statistics regarding the heart health.