London, March 17: Scientists have developed a new mobile application that can detect atrial fibrillation that causes strokes. The mobile application can save lives all over the world as timely diagnosis of atrial fibrillation is crucial for effective stroke prevention. The researchers studied 300 patients with heart problems, half of whom had atrial fibrillation. They managed to identify the patients with atrial fibrillation from the other group with a smartphone.
The mobile application detected which patients had atrial fibrillation even with a 96 percent accuracy. In other words, the application recognised automatically near all cases with atrial fibrillation and the number of false alarms was very low. "The results are also significant in that the group included different kinds of patients, some of whom had heart failure, coronary disease, and ventricular extrasystole at the same time," said Tero Koivisto from the University of Turku in Finland.
According to the study, published in the journal Circulation, the application has been under development for quite some time - it took seven years of careful research to achieve it. Detecting atrial fibrillation has been a worldwide medical challenge for years, but affordable solutions available for all have been lacking. "Most smartphones have an accelerometer. As nearly everyone has a smartphone, we decided to develop a simple application that could be used in the detection. In the future, everyone who owns a smartphone can detect atrial fibrillation," said Koivisto.
This is the first time that ordinary consumer electronics have achieved such reliable results that they can be actually beneficial for the patient's medical care, said Juhani Airaksinen from the University of Turku. The results are also remarkable in that intermittent atrial fibrillation is not always detected even at the doctor's office. "If everyone can measure with an ordinary smartphone whether they have atrial fibrillation, we have the possibility to direct patients straight to the doctor and further testing without any delay. Therefore, the potential for economic savings is significant," Airaksinen said.