Can a smartphone app become a remote stethoscope?

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Will we soon be able to use an app as a home hearing aid? Image credit: Sergey Narvsky/Stocky.
  • The researchers evaluated the feasibility of using a smartphone’s built-in microphone to record heart sounds by checking the quality of heart sounds recorded with a smartphone and the factors affecting the quality of the recordings.
  • Overall, three out of the four recordings were of good quality, meaning that they could be further processed to obtain medically relevant data.
  • The results indicate that the quality of the heart sound is not affected by the phone version or the user’s biological sex, but users over the age of 60 appear to have lower quality recordings.
  • This study paves the way for a future where individuals, especially those with heart problems, can easily record their heart sounds at home, thus improving the diagnostic process.

Everyone is familiar with the “lub-dub…lub-dub” sounds the heart makes. The reason the heart makes these sounds is because of its job to circulate blood throughout the body.

The heart muscle pumps blood by constantly contracting and relaxing. During the contraction of the heart, we hear the “lub” sound, known as the first heart sound, S1, and during the relaxation of the heart, we hear the “dub” sound – the second heart sound, S2.

The traditional tool that doctors use to listen to heart sounds is the Stethoscope.

Heart sounds may be a useful sign in heart failure, but for now, they are only being evaluated in a clinical setting. It would be helpful for patients to be able to record their heart sounds when they are at home.

One possible way in which individuals can easily pick up heart sounds is in the comfort of their own home using a smartphone with a high-quality inbuilt microphone. To date, many mobile application models have been developed to record heart sounds and make them available to the public, including Stethoscope And the Stethoscope.

Now, researchers at King’s College London in the UK and Maastricht University in the Netherlands have conducted a study to investigate the feasibility of using a smartphone as a hearing aid and to evaluate potential factors affecting the quality of heart audio recordings.

“This research demonstrates that mobile technologies are a viable method for recording heart sounds and that in the future, heart patients and clinicians can use the recordings at home to check the [the] Presence or development of heart disease Dr. Pablo LamataCo-author of the study and professor of biomedical engineering at King’s College London.

The results of this study appeared in European Heart Journal – Digital Health.

In cooperation with heart patients through British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Children’s Heart Organization Evelina (ECHO), and with experts in Cellul Design StudioResearchers have developed a smartphone app that measures the sound of the heart.

to use the Echoes app, the user just needs to put his smartphone on his chest and press “Record”. The app has a signal processing algorithm that filters the heart sound recordings to remove any background noise.

The Echoes app asks users to provide anonymous basic demographic information, including age, gender, height, weight, and, if applicable, any heart conditions.

Between May 21 and October 4, 2021, 1,148 individuals downloaded the Echoes app and contributed 7,597 heart audio recordings, which were uploaded to the Google Firebase database.

The researchers found that eight out of every 10 (80%) users were able to record a high quality heart sound. A “good quality” recording is the one that can be interpreted for analysis.

In general, three out of four (75%) additional recordings can be processed to obtain medically relevant data.

The researchers then looked at factors affecting the quality of heart audio recordings among these users. They found that the following factors did not affect the quality of the recordings:

  • phone version
  • The biological sex of the user.

However, researchers note that users over the age of 60 have lower quality recordings.

During the PhD thesis discussion, Dr. Hongsheng LuoThe study’s co-author and a postdoctoral researcher at Maastricht University argued that the problem of low-quality cardiac audio recordings by older users could be overcome.

One of the easiest solutions, he said, is to instruct users to use a headset to listen to the sounds of their heart as they search for the position with the loudest heart sounds.

Since hospitals already have many tools for assessing patients’ heart conditions, such as echocardiogram (ECG) and MRI (MRIWith the survey, Dr. Luo believes that a promising direction for technology like Echoes is remote cardiac monitoring, especially for the following patient groups:

  • Heart failure patients
  • Postoperative follow-up of valvular patients heart disease
  • Post-operative follow-up Arrhythmia The patients.

Dr Lamata described the Echoes app as a “tool for patient empowerment.”[s] to manage their own circumstances.

Dr. James Lieberprofessor of molecular medicine at the University of Glasgow and associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, notes:

“As we enter the age of digital medicine, technology like echo could revolutionize heart disease diagnosis and monitoring at home. More research is needed to test how the app can be used in conjunction with existing heart monitoring technologies. However, if this development is successful, it could It represents an important step toward making heart monitoring tools at your fingertips.”

Dr.. Dominic Lenzprofessor at Physiology From Circulatory, Kidney and Lung at the University of Copenhagen, notes that it is important for researchers to identify “certain thresholds [heart sound measurements] Which should lead to action ‘by the cardiologist to evaluate patient data via the Echoes app.

One limitation of the study is that the Echoes app was only available to iPhone users, thus excluding Android users – who represent more than half of smartphone users overall – from the study.

Dr. Pablo Lamata said, when asked if the Echoes app will become available to the wider public Medical news today: “We are now planning our next release, to also include an Android version, and hopefully by May next year.”

The Echoes app currently only detects S1 and S2 heart sounds, and the researchers commented that “the benefit of recognizing pathological heart sounds, including S3, S4 and murmurs, should be investigated in a future study involving patients.”

The researchers also note that the study population may not truly reflect the general population “because smartphone users are likely to be younger and more educated.” More research is needed to assess the reproducibility of these results.

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