Smartphone app to reliably diagnose irregular heartbeat or atrial fibrillation

Researchers from the University of Turku developed a smartphone app to detect atrial fibrillation with phone alone, without any extra equipment. This application provides a potential tool for timely diagnosis of atrial fibrillation as it is crucial for effective stroke prevention. The results of the study were published in the journal Circulation.

Smartphone app to detect atrial fibrillation or irregular heartbeat.
Credit: Hannah Oksanen, University of Turku.

Researchers conducted a study on three hundred patients with heart problems, 50% had atrial fibrillation. The researchers managed to identify the patients with atrial fibrillation from the other group with a smartphone with around 96% accuracy. According to Chief Physician and Professor of Cardiology Juhani Airaksinen from Turku University Hospital, this is the first time that ordinary consumer electronics have achieved such reliable results.

The technology behind the application involves using small accelerometers that are present in most smartphones. Researchers call this technique mechanochardiography, as it uses mechanical stimulus to generate heart trace.

The researchers want to make this app available for all as quickly as possible. According to Mr. Koivisto, the commercialization of the method is advancing quickly.

Reference: Jaakkola, Jussi, Samuli Jaakkola, Olli Lahdenoja, Tero Hurnanen, Tero Koivisto, Mikko Pänkäälä, Timo Knuutila, Tuomas O. Kiviniemi, Tuija Vasankari, and K.e. Juhani Airaksinen. “Mobile Phone Detection of Atrial Fibrillation With Mechanocardiography: The MODE-AF Study (Mobile Phone Detection of Atrial Fibrillation).” Circulation, 2018. doi:10.1161/circulationaha.117.032804.

Adapted from press release by the University of  Turku.