Australian Scientists Have Found A Way To Use An iPhone To Deliver A Stroke Test

A piece of street art depicting a heart-shaped balloon covered in bandages, allegedly done by the street artist Banksy. Photo: Getty

Australian researchers have come up with a unique way to identify the thousands of people at risk of stroke every year, using an ECG test delivered over an iPhone by pharmacists.

The test is quick and accurate and can quickly and cheaply diagnose unknown atrial fibrillation (AF), a common abnormal heart rhythm which causes a third of all strokes and doubles the chances of premature death.

If this simple test was rolled out to the Australian population aged between 65 and 84, the researchers predict this could prevent 1,228 strokes over 10 years.

Atrial fibrillation often goes undetected and may have no symptoms before causing a stroke, which is sometimes fatal. It is especially common in people aged over 65 and is largely preventable by blood thinning medication.

The University of Sydney study, published in the journal Thrombosis and Haemostasis, screened 1,000 people in pharmacies aged 65 years and over and found unrecognised AF in 1.5%.

Paper lead author, Nicole Lowres, said: “Unfortunately, many who have AF are unaware and have no symptoms that would lead them to visit their doctor.”

Using the test is easy: hold the iphone (which has a special case containing a miniaturised ECG recorder) for just 30 seconds, and instantly there is a medical quality ECG with an accurate automated diagnosis available. This then can be transmitted to medical professionals for use during the consultation, and stored in medical records.

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