Detecting afib with a smartphone camera?

Research we're watching

Picture this: One day, you may be able to use your smartphone camera to detect atrial fibrillation. Also known as afib, the irregular heart rhythm raises the risk of stroke. New research suggests that the technique, which relies on a special app, is almost as accurate as an FDA-approved mobile electrocardiogram.

Here's how it works: You place your index finger on the smartphone camera, which uses the camera's light to detect changes in your pulse. The app algorithm then uses that information to determine whether your pulse is steady and regular (normal rhythm) or fast and irregular (afib).

The study, published online July 31 in the journal Europace, included 562 people, about 40% of whom had afib. Researchers found that a five-minute recording with the smartphone app correctly classified afib nearly 90% of the time. The app still needs to be tested in a large-scale screening study of afib. But if future trials prove successful, it could be a cost-effective, convenient way to screen people for this common problem.

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