To the careful observer, a person’s face has long provided insight into what is going on beneath the surface.
Now, with the assistance of a web camera and software algorithms, the face can also reveal whether or not an individual is experiencing atrial fibrillation, a treatable but potentially dangerous heart condition.
A pilot project, the results of which were published online today in the journal Heart Rhythm, demonstrates that subtle changes in skin color can be used to detect the uneven blood flow caused by atrial fibrillation. The technology was developed in a partnership between the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and Xerox.
“This technology holds the potential to identify and diagnose cardiac disease using contactless video monitoring,” Jean-Philippe Couderc, Ph.D., with the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Heart Research Follow-up Program. “This is a very simple concept, but one that could enable more people with atrial fibrillation to get the care the care they need.”
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular or sometimes rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow to the body. This occurs when erratic cardiac electrical activity causes the upper and lower chambers of the heart to beat out of sync. More than three million Americans suffer from the disease.
While the condition can be readily diagnosed, in many people it goes undetected, either because it comes and goes, or because the symptoms – fatigue and weakness – are too general to warrant concern. Consequently, it is estimated that 30 percent of people with atrial fibrillation do not know they have the condition.
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The Latest on: Diagnosing cardiac disease
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