Preventing cardiac attacks and monitoring heartbeat? There's an app for that

A new medical device developed by Finnish researchers aims to detect heart irregularities at an early stage. By syncing up with a smartphone app, the thumb-size device monitors heart rate variability to alert users when they're under prolonged stress or exhibiting other markers that could result in complications.

"With the mobile device … users can register their ECG signal whenever arrhythmia or other heart symptoms occur," Timo Varpula, principal scientist with VTT, the research center developing the device, said in a statement. "The device is also suitable for pre- and post-surgery monitoring of heart patients at home."

Mr. Varpula also said the app enables remote patient monitoring and minimizes hospital visits by wirelessly transmitting data from smartphone to medical staff.

According to VTT, the device has been tested by about 30 users, including hospital patients and athletes, to detect atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia and a cardiac conduction disorder. Although the study is ongoing, researchers report patients using the device to monitor irregular heartbeat experience improved quality of life due to the quantifiable data the system gives them.

VTT estimates the device will go to market early next year.  

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