Long QT Syndrome: New Home Heart Monitoring Could Save Lives

by Danielle Bradshaw from In The Cloud Copy

The University of Manchester’s team of researchers has come up with a new and simple means of monitoring their own electrocardiograms (ECG) at home. The development of this technique can reduce the need for hospital visits and can help people detect life-threatening conditions.

Before this, it was necessary for people to have ECGs run in hospitals which then had to be “read” by trained experts. PLoS One, a medical journal, states in one of their newer studies that when color is applied properly, the average layperson can accurately check their own ECG.

Ticker Time: The QT-Interval

The time that it takes for a person’s heart to depolarize and charge itself back up is what’s referred to as the “QT-Interval”. There’s a plethora of medicines – like cancer and depression medications – that can cause the amount of time that this function takes to lengthen. The more time that it takes for your heart to recharge, the likelier it is for a person to suffer from a lethal arrhythmia.

ECGs Are a Difficult Read

ECGs display an extensive amount of signal data that signifies the electrical activity of the patient’s heart. ECGs are especially important, as they’re used to spot cardiac pathologies. The thing about this is that they are not easy to decipher – clinicians don’t have an easy time reading them either. To this end, the research team at The University of Manchester has been trying to come up with a means that makes it easy to actually visualize ECG data for the average person.

Why Reading ECGs Should Be Made Easy for Everybody

People being able to read their own ECGs is a big step for public health. This is important, because a lot of medications – many of which are accessible by a large number of people – can result in long QT syndrome. Trips to the hospital for routine checks as well as the time it takes for people to get emergency medical attention can be reduced.

The new technique works by making the technology to read ECGs available via smartwatches. To specify, it’s a single-lead ECG. The spot under the ECG signal has a color spectrum that ranges from blue to red with warmer colors indicating a larger risk of long QT syndrome. Long QT syndrome is kind of an “undercover disorder,” meaning that it doesn’t very often have any symptoms associated with it; ECGs are the only way that you can check for them.

This novel technique is even being used as the basis of a new kind of artificial intelligence that is able to distinguish the lengthening of QT-intervals automatically. It’s easy to visually interpret the data so people are able to intuitively understand the information that they’re being presented with.

Learn more about this story here.

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