Medical Devices & Technology

Medical Devices & Technology Articles

Smartphone apps for managing heart disease

Smartphone apps that pair with devices that record data (such as a blood pressure cuff, a personal electrocardiogram, or a scale) may help doctors fine-tune treatments for people with certain cardiovascular conditions. Contrary to popular belief, many people ages 65 and older are comfortable using apps. Apps paired with devices allow people to collect health data at home in a consistent, streamlined manner. The data are then stored electronically in a simple, accessible format (such as a graph) that is easy to retrieve, view, and send to a doctor. (Locked) More »

Pacemaker concerns

The latest pacemaker models not only help people stay active later in life, they’re also more compatible with today’s technology. But people with pacemakers should take precautions when lifting weights and in certain airport security situations. (Locked) More »

Heart rhythm monitoring with a smartwatch

Some smartphones now feature sensors and apps that detect atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder. But these devices are not yet accurate enough to use for screening purposes. About 30% of the data are uninterpretable or inaccurate, in part because of factors such as movement, lighting, temperature, and skin color. In addition, doctors cannot be fully available to review information generated from these devices. Finally, the health consequences of occasional, brief episodes of atrial fibrillation (which causes a rapid, irregular heartbeat) are unknown. (Locked) More »

What is sick sinus syndrome?

Sick sinus syndrome refers to various heartbeat irregularities that can cause fainting, weakness, palpitations, or shortness of breath. Most cases are due to age-related changes in the heart muscle that disrupt the heart’s electrical system. (Locked) More »

Managing mitral valve disease: Progress and promise

Severe mitral valve disease happens when the mitral valve can’t close properly, causing blood to flow backward during heartbeats. Common symptoms include breathlessness, fatigue, cough, and swollen feet or ankles. Most cases are treated with open-heart or minimally invasive surgery. But a catheter-based device called MitraClip can repair some faulty valves. And a number of other devices—including some that can replace the entire valve—are under development. (Locked) More »

Rating heart monitors

One of the most valuable health and fitness technologies is a heart rate monitor—a device that instantly tells how fast the heart is beating. Whether someone has just begun an exercise routine or already is a committed fitness enthusiast, tracking the heart rate can help maintain the necessary moderate level of intensity for optimal benefits. It also can help people who have to be extra careful about overexertion, such as those recovering from a heart problem, surgery, or injury. (Locked) More »

Harnessing big data to help the heart

Advanced technologies are beginning to transform doctors’ ability to screen for cardiovascular disease. Examples include the analysis of data from smartphones and other devices using machine learning to predict a person’s risk of disease. Two promising applications include retina scans to predict heart disease and pulse monitoring with a smartwatch to detect atrial fibrillation, a common cause of stroke. Possible future applications include capturing varied data from electronic health records, such as electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, blood test results, and genetic information. (Locked) More »

Choosing and using a home blood pressure monitor

Using a home blood pressure monitor can help people manage their condition more effectively, especially if they are taking several different drugs while trying to reach their blood pressure target. When choosing a monitor, people should select one with a well-fitting, self-inflating cuff that goes around the upper arm and a digital readout that’s easy to read. Some monitors feature a cord that plugs into a smartphone; others can transfer their data wirelessly to a smartphone or computer. The blood pressure readings can then be transmitted to physicians. (Locked) More »

Taking a look at the latest trends in heart rhythm monitoring

Bulky external devices with many wires that record a person’s heart rhythm for several days or longer are being replaced by small patches and implanted devices. The patches, which resemble large Band-Aids, are placed on the chest and can record heart activity up to 30 days. Their main role is for people with frequent palpitations. The internal devices, called implantable loop recorders, are inserted under the skin to the left of the breastbone and work for about three years. They are mainly used to help diagnose people with unexplained fainting or strokes. Some of these new devices can transmit data wirelessly in real time to a doctor. (Locked) More »