NY researchers to develop heart health app with $2M+ NIH grant

The National Institutes of Health awarded a team of clinicians and engineers at University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center and Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology more than $2 million in grant funding to develop a non-invasive technique to assess atrial fibrillation.

The researchers plan to develop a health app for smartphones and tablets that assesses atrial fibrillation, or an irregularity in a patient's heart rate. The app would leverage videotaped sensory images of heart activity and blood flow and use a set of algorithms to detect a patient's risk for atrial fibrillation.

To evaluate the app, researchers will provide tablets to more than 260 patients, which the patients will use while wearing an electrocardiogram patch. Researchers will compare the data from the tablet and the patch to determine how accurately the tablet technology detects irregular heartbeats.

The goal of the non-invasive app assessment is to help clinicians identify cardiac conditions that might not be detected during an annual ECG monitoring test. Unlike traditional ECG monitoring, the app would record a patient's heart rhythm for a longer period to capture heart activity data.

"Our technology is unique because it requires no action on the part of the user aside from what they normally do — go on a tablet to shop, look at pictures, read articles or whatever they like," said Jean-Philippe Couderc, PhD, assistant director of the URMC Heart Research Follow-up Program and associate professor of cardiology at URMC. Dr. Couderc, a biomedical engineer, will lead the project's clinical trials.

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