New App Detects Cases of Atrial Fibrillation

Apps and Software

Researchers in London had created an app for people that can screen themselves for their heart condition called atrial fibrillation. / Photo by: Orawan Pattarawimonchai via Shutterstock


In London, researchers have developed a new smartphone app that can help users screen for atrial fibrillation, which is the most common heart rhythm disorder. The condition usually leads to an irregular, and often times rapid, heart rate that can cause poor blood flow to the body, according to an article that recently came out on

The problem is also the cause of 20 percent to 30 percent of all strokes and raises the overall risk of premature death in patients. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent this, foremost with the use of oral anticoagulation therapy and other radical and high-tech solutions, such as this new app that measures the heart rhythm using inputs of different symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and so on.

Once installed in the smartphone, the app is easily activated by the user merely holding their left index finger in front of the phone's camera for at least one minute. The app then measures the user's overall heart rate and, using that data, generates a report alongside a copy of rhythm traces with their corresponding interpretations.

Peter Vandervoort, a professor at the University of Hasselt, Belgium and principal investigator, stated, “Most people have a smartphone with a camera, which is all they need to detect atrial fibrillation. This is a low-cost way to screen thousands of people for a condition, which is becoming more prevalent and can have serious consequences unless treated."

In the testing of the app, the participants were given instructions to use their phone to measure their heart rhythm twice a day for a week. The average age of the tested participants was 50 years, and 58 percent of them were males.

More than 9,000 of the participants (higher than 80 percent) were found to have a regular heart rhythm, 136 (1.1percent) had atrial fibrillation, 2.11 (17percent) had other irregular rhythms, and 191 (2 percent) gave insufficient data for analysis.

Vandervoort added, “This technology has the real potential to find people with previously unknown atrial fibrillation so that they can be treated.”