Could a phone app become an easy, at-home heart monitor?

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Researchers assessed the feasibility of using a smartphone’s inbuilt microphone to record heart sounds by investigating the quality of smartphone-recorded heart sounds and the factors influencing the quality of the recordings.

Overall, three out of four recordings were of good quality, meaning that they could be processed further to obtain medically relevant data.

The results indicate that heart sound quality is not influenced by phone version or by the user’s biological sex, but users aged over 60 seemed to have lower-quality recordings.

This study paves the way for a future where individuals, particularly those with heart problems, can easily record their own heart sounds at home, thus improving the diagnostic process. Everyone is familiar with the “lub-dub… lub-dub” sounds the heart makes. The reason that the heart makes these sounds is related to its function of circulating blood throughout the body.

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

The traditional tool used by doctors to listen to heart sounds is the stethoscope. HEALTHLINE RESOURCE Free cholesterol-lowering tips — all medically reviewed

Get our cholesterol micro-lessons to support you in making lasting lifestyle changes to manage your cholesterol levels. Our experts have gathered cholesterol-lowering tips into free weekly 5-min lessons. Heart sounds may be a useful marker in heart failure, but currently, they are only assessed in a clinical setting. It would be useful for patients to be able to record their own heart sounds when they are at home.

One possible way in which heart sounds may be easily captured by individuals in the comfort of their own homes is by using a smartphone with an inbuilt high-quality microphone. To date, several mobile app prototypes for recording heart sounds have been developed and made available to the public, including iStethoscopeTrusted Source and CPstethoscopeTrusted Source.

Now, researchers at King’s College London in the United Kingdom and Maastricht University in the Netherlands have conducted a study to investigate the feasibility of using a smartphone as a stethoscope and to assess the potential factors that influence the quality of heart sound recordings.

 

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