A group of researchers in California has developed a smartphone app that can be used to evaluate some aspects of heart health, potentially replacing in some cases more complicated procedures like ultrasound or MRI.
In patients with heart failure it is important for doctors to assess how effective the heart is at pumping blood around the body. At the moment, doctors use techniques like MRI or ultrasound to examine the cardiac output and other measures of heart’s efficiency. In the case of ultrasound, the most commonly used technique, the in-clinic procedure can take up to 45 minutes amd requires a specialized technician to operate the machinery. However, a new technology could make these measurements much simpler, and even allow patients to assess their own heart health at home.
With the new app, patients hold the smartphone against their neck for one to two minutes to take a measurement. The smartphone camera images the expansion and contraction of the carotid artery through the skin in the neck, and uses this information to calculate the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), which is basically a measure of how efficiently the heart is pumping blood around the body.
To test the app, the scientists conducted a small clinical trial, and compared the accuracy of their app to MRI measurements, the current gold standard for LVEF assessments. While not quite as accurate as MRI, the app was at least as accurate as ultrasound at measuring LVEF, suggesting it could be used by heart failure patients to keep track of their disease at home.
“What is exciting about this study is that it shows our technique is as accurate as echocardiography (ultrasound) at estimating LVEF when both are compared to the gold standard of cardiac MRI,” says Mory Gharib of Caltech, a scientist involved in the research. “This has the potential to revolutionize how doctors and patients can screen for and monitor heart disease both in the U.S. and the developing world.”
Here’s a quick Caltech video about the new app:
Study in Critical Care Medicine: Noninvasive iPhone Measurement of Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction Using Intrinsic Frequency Methodology…