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Gizmorama - May 11, 2016

Good Morning,

Need to monitor your heart palpitations? Now there's a smartphone app for that. No, really!

Learn about this interesting story and more from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Mobile app monitors heart palpitations as well as larger devices --*

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Rather than require patients to carry heavy devices attached to electrodes on their bodies, researchers have designed a smartphone app that allows doctors to monitor heart palpitations while making it easier for patients to comply.

The AliveCor Heart Monitor smartphone app uses sensors on a phone case to monitor heart palpitation events, allowing the phone to record heart information and upload it for review by a patient's physician, according to a presentation by University of Buffalo researchers at the 2016 Heart Rhythm Society conference.

Patients often have to wear monitors for two to four weeks in order for their doctors to diagnose and treat a heart palpitation or related condition. The monitors are heavy, however, and often people often do not wear them as much as they need to.

The AliveCor Heart Monitor smartphone app can be installed on an iOS or Android device, however, and if a person is having a heart palpitation, they press a button on the phone, place their fingers on two sensors on the back of a specially-designed phone case and the app records and sends data to a secure server for doctor review later -- a much easier process for everyone involved.

"The event monitors require electrocardiographic electrodes to be attached to the patient's skin, which can be irritating," Dr. Anne Curtis, a professor of medicine at the University of Buffalo, said in a press release. "Then the patient has to wear the device that is attached to the electrodes, which is somewhat cumbersome, and most patients do not like to wear it in public. Hence, compliance is often poor."

In a study two-week study with 32 patients, the researchers found the app recorded 91 percent of arrhythmic events correctly, compared to 87.5 percent of events recorded by the standard event monitor.

As important as its accuracy was that 94 percent of patients using the app complied with their doctors requests for monitoring, compared to just 58 percent with standard monitors.

"We showed that we can do as well with the app as with the event monitors," Curtis said. "The app is easier for patients to use and much more acceptable to them."

*-- Microwave test could replace finger prick for diabetes --*

CARDIFF, Wales - People with diabetes are required to self-test their blood glucose, generally requiring them to prick a finger and test their blood using chemically-coated paper and a small device -- but scientists in Wales think they've got a better device that will allow for more continuous monitoring.

Scientists at Cardiff University have designed a device that tests glucose levels through the skin using microwaves, eliminating the need to bleed and testing supplies that have an expiration date.

The device can be stuck to a person's arm and worn discreetly, allowing for continuous monitoring of blood glucose -- even over the Web, allowing doctors to monitor patient conditions from afar as well.

"Patients are very keen on this," Stephen Luzio, a professor at Swansea University who has been working with scientists at Cardiff University, said in a press release. "One of the big problems with patients measuring their glucose is they don't like pricking their finger, so there's a lot of interest."

The scientists have been working on the device since 2008 on a $1.4 million grant from the Wellcome Trust, a U.K.-based health charity, to find an easier, less invasive method of diabetes monitoring.

The device is attached to the arm or body of a patient using adhesive, and requires a patient's blood sample only when it is initially calibrated. Using microwave-based sensors, it monitors blood glucose, sending data to a mobile app or a computer.

"The monitor uses microwaves and is very safe," said Adrian Porch, a professor at Cardiff University. "The levels of microwaves are very, very low. If you think about a mobile phone then they are about a thousand times less than that."

Luzio and Porch have been carrying out trials with patients already, with more tests planned for later this year. They goal, they said, is to have a device available for use within five years.


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