A small device synced to a smartphone may help identify irregular heartbeats, which can be potentially fatal. Irregular heartbeat, or atrial fibrillation, is a known risk factor for stroke, but often goes undiagnosed. Hopefully, this new device can be used widely to detect more cases of atrial fibrillation and thus reduce the rates of stroke.
The study involved over 13,000 people and only 56 percent of those screened had results that couldn’t be interpreted. Slightly over 100 new cases of atrial fibrillation were uncovered. Among the newly diagnosed, 66 percent did not present symptoms of atrial fibrillation.
Study lead author Dr. Ngai-Yin Chan said, “Whether this approach is capable of reducing the burden of stroke in our community requires further studies.”
The researchers are planning on conducting the second phase of research and have already begun recruiting participants. The second-phase study will include over 10,000 participants who will be screened for atrial fibrillation using a smartphone device.
Although having a personal device to monitor heart rate in hopes to prevent stroke is a great idea, it does come with a hefty cost that may discourage some users. The device that is currently available sells for $99, which may be pricey to some. There are also concerns that these devices will lead to false-negative readings, causing stress or anxiety in some patients, or worse, missing a heart problem that it is actually there.
More research is required to confirm the effectiveness of these products.