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article imageSmartphone app for diagnosing cardiac disease

By Tim Sandle     May 27, 2018 in Health
A new medical smartphone app has performed better than a traditional medical exam for cardiac assessment, based on the findings of a randomized clinical trial and reported to the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The new digital health smartphone application utilizes a smartphone's camera function to assess heart health. The app was compared with a standard medical physical examination that assesses blood flow in the wrist artery. The examination is used for patients about to undergo coronary angiography. A coronary angiogram is a procedure that uses X-ray imaging to see a patient's heart's blood vessels. The test is conducted to see if there's a restriction in blood flow going to the heart, providing important information about the structure and function of the heart.
The app evaluated was the Instant Heart Rate application version 4.5.0 on an iPhone 4S. The trial, run by The Ottawa Hospital together with the University of Ottawa, involved 438 participants divided into two groups. The first group was assessed using the app and the second group was assessed using the traditional physical examination (the Allen test). The research revealed that the smartphone app achieved a diagnostic accuracy of 94 percent compared with 84 percent using the traditional exam method.
The research indicates the potential of smartphone apps to aid physicians in making medical decisions. According to Dr. Benjamin Hibbert, who was involved in the studies: "Because of the widespread availability of smartphones, they are being used increasingly as point-of-care diagnostics in clinical settings with minimal or no cost."
He goes on to outline the future possibilities for mobile medical solutions: "For example, built-in cameras with dedicated software or photodiode sensors using infrared light-emitting diodes have the potential to render smartphones into functional plethysmographs [instruments that measure changes in blood flow]."
The evaluation of the medical technology solution has been published in two articles in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The first is "Mobile cell phone technology puts the future of health care in our hands"; an the second: "Photoplethysmography using a smartphone application for assessment of ulnar artery patency: a randomized clinical trial."
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