ECG-packin’ necklace made for fast and easy heart-checks

An abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation is one of the leading causes of strokes, yet it’s also often symptomless, so it frequently goes undetected. An experimental new necklace, however, could make checking for it a quick and simple process.

Developed by a team at the University of Eastern Finland, the necklace features a pendant that incorporates a single-lead ECG (electrocardiogram). It’s intended to be worn at all times, by people who are at risk of atrial fibrillation.

Periodically, wearers are able to check the electrical activity of their heart simply by launching an accompanying smartphone app, then either holding the pendant between their palms, or pressing it between one palm and their chest. In either case, they do so for 30 seconds.

Via the app, heart rhythm data transmitted from the ECG is sent to a cloud-based server, where artificial intelligence-based algorithms are used to analyze it. Within just a few seconds, if atrial fibrillation is detected, both the patient and their physician are notified.

In an evaluation of the technology, 145 adult volunteers utilized the necklace to check their heart rhythm while simultaneously undergoing a traditional “gold standard” three-lead ECG test. When it came to detecting atrial fibrillation, both methods were found to be highly accurate – the difference, of course, is that the necklace test can be performed by the wearer, any place and at any time.

“The necklace ECG is simple to use and allows repetitive self-monitoring of heart rhythm, thereby improving the likelihood of detecting atrial fibrillation,” says medical student Elmeri Santala, author of a paper on the study. “The ESC [European Society of Cardiology] recommends screening for atrial fibrillation in people over 65 years of age and in those at high risk of stroke; automated analysis by the necklace ECG is well suited for this purpose.”

The team’s findings will be presented on the ESC’s EHRA Essentials 4 You scientific platform.

Source: European Society of Cardiology

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